Skip to main content

Full text of "Sacred and legendary art : containing legends of the angels and archangels, the evangelists, the apostles, the doctors of the Church and St. Mary Magdalene as represented in the fine arts"

See other formats




llBoofes; Ijp ^t&* ^nna 31amc£ifon* 





graphical Sketches of Women celebrated in Ancient and Mod- 
ern Poetry. 


ACTER. With a Steel Engraving of Raphael's Madonna del 
San Sisto. 

(Cimabue to Bassano). 

LEGENDS OF THE MADONNA as represented in vhe 
Fine Arts. 


sented in the Fine Arts. Forming the Second Series >f Sacred 
and Legendary Art. 

Each volume, i6mo, $1.25 ; the ten volumes, in box, $12.50; half 
calf, ^25.00; tree calf, $35.00. 

HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN & CO., Publishers, 
Boston and New York. 




VOL. I. 








HL^t l&ibersiOt Press, CambnliBe 



.^f \u is rt i;j 
(i JAN 1 8 i9c7 




ii^SlTY OF '^ 



HE Author ventures to hope that, on com- 
paring this Third Edition of " Sacred and 
Legendary Art " with the two preceding, it 
will be found greatly improved, and ren- 
dered more worthy of the kind approbation and sym- 
pathy with which it has been received. The whole 
has been carefully revised ; the references to the pic- 
tures and other works of Art corrected from the latest 
authorities, and many new examples have been added. 
In a work so multifarious in its nature, and compris- 
ing so many hundred subjects and references, there 
may remain some errors and omissions, but they have 
not occurred from want of care ; and I must not omit 
to express due thanks for the observations ?nd correc- 
tions which have been forwarded to ran frop' time to 
timo, and which have been in this Edition fvire.^ully 
attf'oded to. 

(*%»• *!• 

January, 1857. 



HIS book was begun six years ago, in 1842. 
It has since been often laid aside, and again 
resumed. In this long interval, many use- 
ful and delightful works have been written 
on the same subject, but still the particular ground 
I had chosen remained unoccupied ; and, amid many 
difficulties, and the consciousness of many deficiencies, 
I was encouraged to proceed, partly by the pleasure I 
took in a task so congenial, — partly by the conviction 
that such a work has long been wanted by those who 
are not contented with a mere manual of reference, or 
a mere catalogue of names. This book is intended 
not only to be consulted, but to be read, — if it be 
found worth reading. It has been written for those 
who are, like myself, unlearned ; yet less, certainly, 
with the idea of instructing, than from a wish to share 
with others those pleasurable associations, those ever 
new and ever various aspects of character and senti- 
ment, as exhibited in Art, which have been a source 
of such vivid enjoyment to myself 

This is the utmost limit of my ambition ; and, 
knowing that I cannot escape criticism, I am at least 
anxious that there should be no mistake as to purpose 
and intention. I hope it will be clearly understood 
that I have taken throughout the aesthetic and not the 


religious view of those productions of Art which, in as 
far as they are informed with a true and earnest feeling, 
and steeped in that beauty which emanates from genius 
inspired by faith, may cease to be Religion, but cannot 
cease to be Poetry ; and as poetry only I have con- 
sidered them. 

The difficulty of selection and compression has been 
the greatest of all my difficulties ; there is not a chap- 
ter in this book which might not have been more 
easily extended to a volume than compressed into 
a few pages. Every reader, however, who is inter- 
ested in the subject, may supply the omissions, follow 
out the suggestions, and enjoy the pleasure of discover- 
ing new exceptions, new analogies, for himself. With 
regard to the arrangement, I am afraid it will be found 
liable to objections ; but it is tlie best that, after long 
consideration and many changes, I could fix upon. 
It is not formal, nor technical, like that of a catalogue 
or a calendar, but intended to lead the fancy naturally 
from subject to subject as one opened upon another, 
with just sufficient order to keep the mind unperplexed 
and the attention unfatigued amid a great diversity of 
objects, scenes, stories, and characters. 

The authorities for the legends have been the Leqenda 
Aurea of Voragine, in the old French and English 
translations ; the Flos Sanctorum of Ribadeneira, in the 
old French translation ; the Perfetta Legendario, editions 
of Rome and Venice; the Legende delle Sante Vergini, 
Florence and Venice ; the large work of Baillet, Les 
Vies des Saints, in thirty-two volumes, most useful for 
the historical authorities ; and Alban Butler's Lives of 
the Saints. All these have been consulted for such 
particulars of circumstance and character as might 
illustrate the various representations, and then com- 
pressed into a narrative as clear as I could render it 
Where one authority only has been followed, it is 
usually placed in the margin. 


The First Part contains the legends of the Scripraral 
personages and the primitive Fathers. 

The Second Part contains those sainted personages 
who lived, or are supposed to have lived, in the first 
ages of Christianity, and whose real history, founded 
on fact or tradition, has been so disguised by poetical 
embroidery, that they have in some sort the air of 
ideal beings. As I could not undertake to go through 
the whole calendar, nor yet to make my book a catar 
logue of pictures and statues, I have confined myself 
to the saints most interesting and important, and 
(with very few exceptions) to those works of art of 
which I could speak from my own knowledge. 

The legends of the monastic orders, and the history 
of the Franciscans and Dominicans, considered merely 
in their connection with the revival and development 
of the Fine Arts in the thirteenth and fourteenth centu- 
ries, open so wide a range of speculation, — the charac- 
teristics of these religious enthusiasts of both sexes are 
so full of interest and beauty as artistic conceptions, 
and as psychological and philosophical studies so ex- 
traordinary, that I could not, in conscience, compress 
them into a few pages ; they form a A'olume complete 
in itself, entitled, " Legends of the Monastic Orders." 

To collect a portfolio of prints, including those works 
of art which are cited under each head as examples, 
with a selection from the hundreds of others which are 
not cited, and aiTange them in the same order, — with 
reference, not to schools, or stj'les, or dates, but to sub- 
ject merely, — would be an amusing, and I think not 
a profitless, occupation. It could not be done in the 
right spirit without leading the mind far beyond the 
mere pleasure of comparison and criticism, to " thoughts 
more elevate and reasonings high " of things celestial 
and terrestrial, as shadowed forth in form by the wit 
and the hand of man. 



I. Of the Origin and general Significance of the Legends 

represented in Art 1 

II. Of the Distinction to be drawn between Devotional and 

Historical Subjects 12 

III. Of the Patron Saints of particular Countries, Cities, 

and Localities 20 

rv. Of certain Emblems and Attributes of general Applica- 
tion 26 

T. Of the Significance of Colors. Conclusion . . 41 


Of Angels. Antiquity of the Belief in Angels. Early No- 
tions respecting them. How represented in the Old 
Testament. In the New Testament. Angelic Hierar- 
chies. The Nine Choirs. Seraphim, Cherubim. Gen- 
eral Characterisiics in Painting. Infant Angels. Wings. 
Angels of Dante. Angels as Messengers, Choristers, 
Guardians. As Ministers of Wrath. As Agents in the 
Creation. , Manner in which the principal Painters have 
set forth the .Angelic Forms and Attributes ... 47 

The Archangels. The Seven Archangels. The Four Arch- 
angels. The Three Archangels 91 

St. Michael ... 96 

St. Gabwel 119 

St. Eaphaei- 129 

Additional Notes on An^eU 131 



The earliest Types : as Four Books ; as Four Rivers ; as thie 
Four Mysterious Animals ; the Human and Animal 
Forms combined ; with Wings ; as Men . . . 132 

St. Matthew. His Legend. His Attributes. Pictures from 

his Life not common 142 

St. Mark. His Legend. Devotional Pictures : as Evange- 
list ; as the Disciple of Peter ; as the Patron Saint of 
Venice. The Legend of the Fisherman. The Legend of 
the Christian Slave. The Translation of the Body of St. 
Mark 146 

St. Lcke. His Legend. Devotional Figures. Attributes: 
as Evangelist and Painter. St. Luke painting the Vir- 
gin 155 

St. John. His Legend. Devotional Pictures : as Evange- 
list ; as Apostle ; as Prophet- Subjects from his Life ; 
Legend of St. John and the Robber ; of the two Young 
Men ; of Drusiana ; of the Huntsmen and the Partridge. 
The Martyrdom of St. John. Legend of the Death of St. 
John. Legend of Galla Placidia. Of King Edward the 
Confessor 158 

The Six Writers of the Canonical Epistles, as a Series . 175 


Ancient Types : as Twelve Sheep ; as Twelve Doves ; as 
Twelve Men. How grouped in Ecclesiastical Decora- 
tion. In the Old Mosaics ; their proper Place. Exam- 
ples from various Painters. Historical Subjects relating 
to the Twelve Apostles : the Pentecost ; the Separation 
of the Twelve Apostles to preach the Gospel ; the Twelve- 
Baptisms ; the Twelve Martyrdoms ... .1 176 

St. Peter and St. Pacl. The Ancient Greek Types. Ex- 
amples of the early Treatment of these two Apostles : in 
the old Mosaics ; in early Sculpture ; in Pictures . . 190 

St. Peter. His peculiar Attributes : as Apostle and Patron 
Saint ; as the Head and Founder of the Roman Church ; 
St. Peter as Pope. Subjects from the Scriptural Life of 
St. Peter. Legendary Stories connected with St. Peter. 
The Legend of Simon Magus; of the '■'■Domine quo 
Vadis } " of Processus and Martinian. The Martyrdom 
of St. Peter. St. Peter as Keeper of the Gates of Para- 


dise. The Legend of St. Petronilla. The Life of St. 
Peter in a Series of Subjects 208 

St. Paul. Earliest Type. Attributes of St. Paul: the 
Sword. Subjects from his Life. Stoning of Stephen. 
Conversion of St. Paul. Tlie Vision of St. Paul. Mira- 
cles of St. Paul. His Martyrdom. The Legend of Plau- 
tilla. The Life of St. Paul in a Series of Subjects . 21^ 

St. Asdrew. The Legend. Attributes. Historical Subjects 
from the Life of St. Andrew. Flagellation. Adoration 
of the Cross. Martyrdom as represented by Guido, Do- 
menichino, and Murillo 234/' 

St. James Major. Story and Character as represented in 
Scripture. St. James as Patron of Spain. The Legend 
of Santiago. The Battle of Clavijo. The Pilgrims of 
Compostella. The Devotional Figures and Attributes of 
St. James the Apostle. As Tutelar Saint of Spain. Pic- 
tures from his Legend 238 

St. Philip. The Legend of the Idol and the Serpent. De- 
votional Pictures and Attributes. Subjects from his 
Legend. Distinction between St. Philip the Apostle and 
St. Philip the Deacon 249 

St. Bartholomew. The Legend. The Attributes. Martyr 

dom 252 

St. Thomas. Origin of his peculiar Attribute. The Legend 
of King Gondnforus. The Incredulity of St. Thomas. 
The Legend of the '■'•Madonna della Cinto/a." Mar- 
tyrdom of St. Thomas 253 

St. James Minor. First Bishop of Jerusalem. Attributes. 
Resemblance to Christ. Subjects from his Life. Mar- 
tyrdom. Frescos at Padua 259 

St. Simon and St. Jcde. Legend and Attributes. Repre- 
sented as Children 261 

St. Matthias. Attributes , . 263 

Judas Iscariot. Scriptural Character. Legends relating 

to him ; how represented in various Subjects . . . 263 

The Last Scpper. Its Importance as a Sacred Subject. 
Devotional when it represents the Institution of the 
Eucharist Historical when it represents the Detection 
of Judas. "Various Examples. Giotto. Duccio of Siena. 
Angelico da Fiesole. Luca Signorelli. Ghirlandajo. 
Albert DUrer. Leonardo da Vinci. Raphael. Andrea 
del Sarto. Titian. Poussin 27* 


Faults and Mistakes committed by Painters in representing 

the Last Supper 284 

Bt. Barnabas. His Legend. Popular at Venice as Kinsman 
of St. Mark. Kepresented with the Gospel of St. Mat- 
thew 290 


The Four Latin Fathers. Their Peculiar Attributes. Their 
proper Place in Ecclesiastical Decoration. Subjects in 
which they are introduced together .... 293 

St. Jerome. History and Character. Influence over the 
Roman Women. Origin of his Attributes. Legend of 
the Wounded Lion. Devotional Figures of St. Jerome : 
as Patron Saint ; as Translator of the Scriptures ; as 
Penitent. Subjects from the Life of St. Jerome. The 
Communion of St Jerome 300 

St. Ambrose. Story and Character of St. Ambrose. The 
Emperor Theodosius. The Discovery of the Martyrs St. 
Protasius and St. Gervasius. Legends relating to St. 
Ambrose. The Prefect Macedonius. The Nobleman of 
Tuscany. Devotional Figures of St. Ambrose. His pe- 
culiar Attributes. His Church at Milan ; his Life as 
represented on the Altar. Statue of St. Ambrose . . 315 

St. Augustine. Character of St Augustine. His Shrine at 
Pavia, and Basso-relievos representing his Life. Devo- 
tional Figures of St. Augustine. Represented with his 
Mother, Monica. Various Subjects from his Life. The 
Vision of St. Augustine 324 

St. Gregory. His Story and Character. His Popularity. 
Legends connected with his Life. Origin of his Attribute, 
the Dove. The Supper of St. Gregory. The Mass of St. 
Gregory. The Miracle of the Brandeum. St. Gregory 
releases the Soul of the Emperor Trajan. The Legend as 
represented in Pictures. The Legend of the Monk. St. 
Gregory's Doctrine of Purgatory. How represented. . 331 

The Four Greek Fathers. How represented in the Greek 

Pictures, and by the Latin Artists 343 

St. John Chrtsostom. Singular Legends with regard to him. 
Tlie Penance of St. Chrysostoro. As represented in the 
German Prints. By Lucas Cranach. By Behara. By 
Albert Diirer 84S 


St. Bash, the Great. His Character. How represented. 

Story of the Emperor Valens. Legends which refer to St. 

Basil 351 

St. Athanasius. How represented. Unpopular as a subject 

of Art 358 

St. Gregory Nazianzen. His History and Character. His 
celebrity as a Poet. Beautiful Miniatures relative to his 
Life 359 

St. Cyril. How represented 362 


Character of Mary Magdalene. Disputes concerning her 
Identity. The Popular and Scriptural Legend. The old 
Proven(;al Legend. The Devotional Representations: 
as Patron Saint ; as Penitent Sacred Subjects in which 
she is introduced. Legendary Subjects. La Danse de 
la Madeleine The Assumption of the Magdalene. The 
Legend of the Mother and Child. Her Life in a Series 
of Subjects. Legends of Mary Magdalene and St. John 
the Evangelist 363 

St. Martha. Her Character. Legends of St. Martha. How 

represented. Where introduced 404 

St. Lazarus 406 

St. Mart of Egypt. The Legend. Distinction between St. 
Mary of Egypt and Mary Magdalene. Proper Attributes 
of Mary of Egypt. Stories and Pictures from her Life . 408 

Mary the Penitent, not to be confounded with Mary of 
Egypt. Her Story. Landscapes of Philip de Cham- 
pagne . . 414 

St. Thais. St. Pelagia 416 




I. Of the Origin and General Significance op 
THE Legends represented in Art. 

E cannot look round a picture gallery, we 
cannot turn over a portfolio of prints after 
the old ma.sters, nor even the modern en- 

frravin<rs which pour upon us daily, from 

Paris, Munich, or Berlin, without perceiving how many 
of the most celebrated productions of Art, more par- 
ticularlv those which have descended to us from the 
early Italian and German schools, i-epresent incidents 
and characters taken from the once popular legends of 
the Catholic Church. This form of " Hero- Worship "■ 
lias become, since the Reformation, strange to us, — as 
far removed from our symjiathies and associations as 
if it were antecedent to tlie fall of Babylon and related 
to the religion of Zoroaster, instead of being left but 
two or three centuries behind ns and closely connected 
with the faith of our forefathers and the history of civil- 
ization and Cin-istianity. Of late years, with a grow- 
ing passion for the works of Art of the Middle Ages, 
there has arisen among us a desire to comprehend the 
state of feeling which produced them, and the legends 
and traditions on which they are founded ; — a desire 
to understand, and to bring to some surer critical test, 
representations which have become familiar without 
being intelligible. To enable us to do this, we must 
pause for a moment at the outset ; and, before we 


plunge into the midst of things, ascend to higher 
ground, and command a far wider range of illustration 
than has yet been attempted, in order to take cognizance 
of principles and results which, if not new, must be 
contemplated in a new relation to each other. 

The Legendary Art of the Middle Ages sprang out 
of the legendary literature of the preceding ages. For 
three centuries at least this literature, the only literature 
which existed at the time, formed the sole mental and 
moral nourishment of the people of Europe. The 
romances of Chivalry, which long afterwards succeeded, 
were confined to particular classes, and left no impress 
on Art, beyond the miniature illuminations of a few 
manuscripts. This legendary literature, on the con- 
trary, which had worked itself into the life of the people, 
became, like the antique mythology, as a living soul 
diffused through the loveliest forms of Art, still vivid 
and vivifying, even when the old faith in its mystical 
significance was lost or forgotten. And it is a mistakes 
to suppose that these legends had their sole origin in 
the brains of dreaming monks. The wildest of them 
had some basis of truth to rest on, and the forms which 
they gradually assumed were but the necessary result 
of the age which produced them. They became the 
intense expression of that inner life, which revolted 
against the desolation and emptiness of the outward 
existence ; of those crushed and outraged sympathies 
which cried aloud for rest, and refuge, and solace, and 
could nowhere find them. It will be said, " In the 
purer doctrine of the Gospel." But where was that 
to be found ? The Gospel was not then the heritage 
of the poor : Christ, as a comforter, walked not among 
men. His own blessed teaching was inaccessible ex- 
cept to the learned : it was shut up in rare manuscripts ; 
it was perverted and sophisticated by the passions and 
the blindness of those few to whom it was accessible. 
The bitter disputes in the early Church relative to the 
nature of the Godhead, the subtle distinctions and Id- 


comprehensible arguments of the theologians, the dread 
entertained by the predominant church of any heterodox 
opinions concerning the divinity of the Redeemer, had 
all conspired to remove Him, in his personal character 
of Teacher and Saviour, far away from the hearts of , 
the benighted and miserable people, — far, fiir away into 
regions speculative, mysterious, spiritual, whither they 
could not, dared not, follow Him. In this state of 
things, as it has been remarked by a distinguished 
writer, " Christ became the object of a remoter, a more 
awful adoration. The mind began, therefore, to seek 
out, or eagerly to seize, some other more material beings 
in closer alliance with human sympathies." And the 
same author, after tracing in vivid and beautiful lan- 
guage the dangerous but natural consequences of this 
feeling, thus sums up the result : " During the perilous 
and gloomy days of persecution, the reverence for those 
who endured martyrdom for the religion of Christ had 
grown up out of the best feelings of man's improved 
nature. Reverence gradually grew into veneration, 
worship, adoration : and although the more rigid the- 
ology maintained a marked distinction between the 
honor shown to the martyrs and that addressed to the 
Redeemer and the Supreme Being, the line was too 
fine and invisil)le not to be transgressed by excited 
popular feeliug." * 

" We live," says the poet, " through admiration, 
hope, and love." Out of these vital aspirations — not 
indeed always " well or wisely placed," but never, as 
in the heathen mythology, degraded to vicious and 
contemptible objects — arose and spread the universal 
passion for the traditional histories of the saints and 
martyrs, — personages endeared and sanctified in all 
hearts, partly as- examples of the loftiest virtue, partly 
as benign intercessors between sutfering humanity and 
that Deity who, in every other light than as a God oi' 

* Milman, History of Christmnity, HI. 540. 


Vengeance, had been veiled from their eyes by the per- 
versities of schoolmen and fanatics, till He had receded 
beyond their reach, almost beyond their comprehension. 
Of the prevalence and of the incalculable influence of 
this legendary literature from the seventh to the tenth 
century, that is, just about the period when Modern 
Art was struggling into existence, we have a most 
striking picture in Guizot's " Histoire de la Civilisa- 
tion." " As after the siege of Troy (says this philo- 
sophical and eloquent writer) there were found, in every 
city of Greece, men who collected the traditions and 
adventures of heroes, and sung them for the recreation 
of the people, till these recitals became a national pas- 
sion, a national poetry ; so, at the time of which we 
speak, the traditions of what may be called the heroic 
ages of Christianity had the same interest for the na- 
tions of Europe. There were men who made it their 
business to collect them, to transcribe them, to read or 
recite them aloud, for the edification and delight of the 
people. And this was the only literature, properly so 
called, of that time." 

Now, if we go back to the authentic histories of the 
Buiferings and heroism of the early martyrs, we shall 
find enough there, both of the wonderful and the affect- 
ing, to justify the credulity and enthusiasm of the un- 
lettered people, who saw no reason why they should 
not believe in one miracle as well as in another. In 
these universally diffused legends, we may recognize 
the means, at least one of the means, by which a mer- 
ciful Providence, working through its own immutable 
laws, had provided against the utter depravation, al- 
most extinction, of society. Of the " Dark Ages," 
emphatically so called, the period to which I allude 
was perhaps the darkest ; it was " of Night's black 
arch the key-stone." At a time when' men were given 
over to the direst evils that can afflict humanity, — 
ignorance, idleness, wickedness, misery ; at a time 
when the every-day incidents of life were a violation of 
all the moral instincts of mankind ; at a time when all 



fhings seemed cabandoncd to a blind chance, or the 
brutal law of force ; when there was no repose, no ref- 
ui^e, no safety anywhere ; when the powerful inflicted, 
and the weak endured, whatever we can conceive of 
most revolting and intolerable ; when slavery was rec- 
ognized by law throughout Europe ; when men fled 
to cloisters, to shut themselves from oppression, and 
women to shield tliemselves from outrage ; wlien the 
manners were harsh, the language gross ,• when all the 
softer social sentiments, as pity, reverence, tenderness, 
found no resting-place in the actual relations of life ; 
when for the higher ranks there was only the fierce ex- 
citement of war, and on the humbler classes lay the 
•weary, dreary monotony of a stagnant existence, poor 
in pleasures of every kind, without aim, without hope ; 
then — wondrous reaction of the ineffaceable instincts of 
good implanted within us ! — arose a literature which 
reversed the outward order of things, which asserted 
and kept alive in the hearts of men those pure principles 
of Christianity wliich were outraged in their daily ac- 
tions ; a literature in which peace was represented as 
better than war, and sufferance more dignified than re- 
sistance ; which exhibited poverty and toil as honor- 
able, and charity as the first of virtues ; which held up 
to imitation and emulation, self-sacrifice in the cause 
of good and contempt of death for conscience' sake : a 
literature, in which the tenderness, the chastity, the 
heroism of woman, played a conspicuous part ; which 
distinctly protested against slavery, against violence, 
against impurity in word and deed ; which refreshed 
the fevered and darkened spirit with images of moral 
beauty and truth ; revealed bright glimpses of a better 
land, where " the wicked cease from troubling," and 
brought down the angels of God with shining wings 
and bearing crowns of glory, to do battle with the 
demons of darkness, to catch the fleeting soul of the 
triumphant martyr, and carry it at once into a paradiso 
of eternal blessedness and peace ! 

Now the Legendary Art of the three centuries whict 


comprise the revival of learning was, as I have said, 
the reflection of this literature, of this teaching. Con- 
sidered in this point of view, can we easily overrate its 
interest and importance "? 

"When, after the long period of darkness wliich fol- 
lowed upon the decline of the Roman Empire, the Fine 
Arts began to revive, the first, and for several ages the 
only, impress they received was that of the religious 
spirit of the time. Painting, Sculpture, Music, and 
Architecture, as they emerged one after another from 
the " formless void," were pressed into the service of 
the Church. But it is a mistake to suppose that in 
adroitly adapting the reviving Arts to her purposes, in 
that magnificent spirit of calculation which at all times 
characterized her, the Church from the beginning se- 
lected the subjects, or dictated the use that was to be 
made of them. We find, on the contrary, edicts and 
councils repressing the popular extravagances in this 
respect, and denouncing those apocryphal versions of 
sacred events and traditions which had become the de- 
light of the people. But vain were councils and edicts ; 
the tide was too strong to be so checked. The Church 
found herself obliged to accept and mould to her owu 
objects the exotic elements she could not eradicate. 
She absorbed, so to speak, the evils and en-ors she could 
not expel. There seems to have been at this time a 
sort of compromise between the popular legends, with 
all their wild mixture of northern and classical super- 
stitions, and the Church legends properly so called. 
The first great object to which reviving Art was des- 
tined, was to render the Christian places of worship a 
theatre of instruction and improvement for the people, 
to attract and to interest them by representations of 
scenes, events, and personages, already so familiar as 
to require no explanation, appealing at once to their 
intelligence and their sympathies ; embodying in beau- 
tiful shapes (beautiful at least in their eyes) associations 
and feelings and memories deep-rooted in their very 


hearts, and which had inflnenced, in no slight degree, 
the progress of civilization, the development of mind. 
Upon these creations of ancient Art we cannot look as 
those did for whom they were created ; we cannot anni- 
hilate the centuries which lie l)ctween us and them ; we 
cannot, in simplicity of heart, forget the artist in the 
image he has placed before us, nor supply wliat may 
be deficient in his work, through a reverentially excited 
fancy. We are critical, not credulous. We no longer 
accept this polytheistic form of Christianity ; and there 
is little danger, I suppose, of our falling again into the 
strange excesses of superstition to which it led. But if 
we have not much sympathy with modern imitations 
of Mediaeval Art, still less should we sympathize with 
that narrow puritanical jealousy which holds the mona- 
ments of a real and earnest faith in contempt. All 
that God has permitted once to exist in the past should 
be considered as the possession of the present ; sacred 
for example or warning, and held as the foundation on 
which to build up wliat is better and purer. It should 
seem an established fact, that all revolutions in religion, 
in government, and in art, which begin in the spirit of 
scorn, and in a sweeping destruction of the antecedent 
condition, only tend to a reaction. Our puritanical 
ancestors chopped off the heads of Madonnas and 
Saints, and paid vagabonds to smash the storied win- 
dows of our cathedrals ; — now, are these rejected and 
outraged shapes of beauty coming back to us, or are we 
not rather going back to them 1 As a Protestant, I 
might fear lest in doing so we confound the eternal 
spirit of Christianity with the mutable forms in which 
it has deigned to speak to the hearts of men, forms 
which must of necessity vary with the degree of social 
civilization, and bear the impress of the feelings and 
fashions of the age which produced them ; but I must 
also feel that we ought to comprehend, and to hold in 
due reverence, that which has once been consecrated to 
holiest aims, which has shown us what a magnificent 
use has been made of Art, and how it may still be 


adapted to good and gloi'ious purposes, if, while we re- 
spect these time-consecrated images and types., we do 
not allow them to fetter us, but trust in the progressive 
spirit of Christianity to furnish us with new imperson- 
ations of the good, new comlnnations of the beautiful. 
I hate the destructive as I revere the progressive spirit. 
We must laugh if any one were to try and persuade us 
that the sun was guided along his Mazing path by " a 
fair-haired god who touched a golden lyre " ; but shall 
we therefore cease to adore in the Apollo Belvedere the 
majestic symbol of light, the most divine impersonation 
of intellectual power and beauty ■? So of the corre- 
sponding Christian symbols : — may that time never 
come, when we shall look up to the effigy of the winged 
and radiant angel trampling down the brute-fiend, with- 
out a glow of faith in the perpetual supremacy and final 
triumph of good over evil ! 

It is about a hundred years since the passion, or the 
fashion, for collecting works of Art, began to be gener- 
ally diffused among the rich and the noble of this land ; 
and it is amusing to look back and to consider the per- 
versions and affectations of the would-be connoisseurship 
during this period ; — the very small stock of ideas on 
which people set up a pretension to taste, — the false 
notions, the mixture of pedantry and ignorance, which 
everywhere prevailed. The pul)lication of Richardson's 
book, and Sir Joshua Reynolds's Discourses, had this 
advantage, — that they, to a certain degree, diffused a 
more elevated idea of Art as Art, and that they placed 
connoisseurship on a better and truer basis. In those 
days we had Inquiries into the Principles of Taste, 
Treatises on the Sublime and Beautiful, Anecdotes of 
Painting ; and we abounded in Antiquarian Essays on 
disputed Pictures and mutilated Statues : but then, and 
up to a late period, any inquiry into the true spirit and 
significance of works of Art, as connected with the his> 
tory of Religion and Civilization, would have appeared 
ridiculous — or perhaps dangerous : — we should have 


hart another cry of " No Popery," and aots of Par- 
liament forbiddin<^ the importation of Saints and Ma- 
donnas. It was fortunate, perhaps, that connoisseurs 
meddled not with such high matters. They tallied vol- 
ubly and harmlessly of " hands," and " masters," and 
"schools," — of "draperies," of "tints," of "hand- 
ling," — of " fine heads," " fine compositions " ; of the 
•' grace of Raphael," and of the " Correggiosity of 
Correggio." The very manner in which the names of 
the painters were pedantically used, instead of the name 
of the subject, is indicative of this factitious feeling ; 
the only question at issue was, whether such a pic- 
ture was a genuine "Raphael"? such another a gen- 
uine " Titian " ? The spirit of the work — whether 
that was genuine ; how far it was influenced by the 
faith and the condition of the age which produced it ; 
whether the conception was properly characteristic, and 
of what it was characteristic — of the sul)ject 1 or of the 
^school ? or of the time ? — whether the treatment cor- 
responded to the idea within our own souls, or was 
modified by the individuality of the artist, or by re- 
ceived conventionalisms of all kinds 1 — these were 
questions which had not then occurred to any one ; and 
I am not sure that we are much wiser even now : yet, 
setting aside all higher considerations, how can we do 
common justice to the artist, unless we can bring his 
work to the test of truth 1 and how can we do this, un- 
less we know what to look for, what was intended as to 
incident, expression, character ? One result of our 
ignorance has been the admiration wasted on the flimsy 
mannerists of the later ages of Art ; men who apparently 
had no definite intention in anything they did, except a 
dashing outline, or a delicate finish, or a striking and 
attractive management of color. 

It is curious, this general ignorance with regard to 
the subjects of Mediffival Art, more particularly now that 
it has become a reigning fashion among us. We find 
no such ignorance with regard to the subjects of Clas- 



Bical Art, because the associations connected with them 
form a part of every liberal education. Do we hear 
any one say, in looking at Annibal Caracci's picture in 
the National Gallery, " Which is Silenus, and which is 
Apollo ? " Who ever confounds a Venus with a Mi- 
nerva, or a Vestal with an Amazon ; or would endure 
an undraped Juno, or a beardless Jupiter ? Even the 
gardener in Zeluco knew Neptune by his " fork," and 
Vulcan by his " lame leg." Wc are indeed so accus- 
tomed, in visiting the churches and the galleries abroad, 
and the collections at home, to the predominance of 
sacred subjects, that it has become a mere matter of 
course, and excites no particular interest and attention. 
We have heard it all accounted for by the fact that the 
Church and churchmen were the first, and for a long 
time the only, patrons of art. In every sacred edifice, 
and in every public or private collection enriched from 
the plunder of sacred edifices, we look for the usual 
proportion of melancholy martyrdoms and fictitious 
miracles, — for the predominance of Madonnas and 
Magdalcncs, St. Catherines and St. Jeromes : but why 
these should predominate, why certain events and char- 
acters from the Old and the New Testament should be 
continually repeated, and others comparatively neg- 
lected ; whence the predilection for certain legendary 
personages, who seemed to be multiplied to infinity, 
and the rarity of others ; — of this we know nothing. 

We have learned, perhaps, after running through 
half the galleries and churches in Europe, to distinguish 
a few of the attributes and characteristic figures which 
meet us at every turn, yet without any clear idea of 
their meaning, derivation, or relative propriety. The 
palm of victory, we know, designates the martyr tri- . 
umphant in death. We so far emulate the critical 
sagacity of the gardener in Zeluco that we have learned 
to distinguish St. Laurence by his gridiron, and St. 
Catherine by her wheel. We are not at a loss to rec- 
ognize the Magdalene's " loose hair and lifted eye," 
even when without her skull and her vase of ointment 


We learn to know St. Francis by his bro\vn habit and 
shaven crown and wasted, ardent features ; but how do 
we distins^uish him from St. Anthony, or St. Dominickl 
As for St. George and the dragon, — from the St. 
Greorge of the Louvre, — Raphael's, — who sits his 
horse with the elegant tranquillity of one assured of 
celestial aid, down to him " who swings on a sign-post 
at mine ho.stess's door," — he is our familiar acquaint- 
ance. But who is that lovely being in the first blush 
of youth, who, bearing aloft the symbolic cross, stands 
with one foot on the vanquished dragon ? " That is a 
copy after Raphael." And who is that majestic crea- 
ture holding her palm-branch, while the unicorn 
crouches at her feet 1 " That is the famous Moretto 
at Vienna." Are we satisfied ? — not in the least ! but 
we try to look wiser, and pass on. 

In the old times the painters of these legendary scenes 
and subjects could always reckon securely on certain 
associations and certain sympathies in the minds of 
the spectators. We have outgrown these associations, 
we repudiate these sympathies. We have taken these 
Avorks from tiieir consecrated localities, in which they 
once held each their dedicated place, and we have hung 
them in our drawing-rooms and our dressing-rooms, 
over our pianos and our side-boards, — and now what 
do they say to us ? That Magdalene, weeping amid 
her hair, wlio once spoke comfort to the soul of the 
fallen sinner, — that Sebastian, arrow-pierced, whose 
upward, ardent glance spoke of courage and hope to the 
tyrant-ridden serf, — that poor tortured slave, to whose 
aid St. Mark comes sweeping down from above, — can 
they speak to us of nothing save flowing lines and cor- 
rect drawing and gorgeous color ? must we be told that 
one is a Titian, the other a Guido, the third a Tintoret, 
before we dare to melt in compassion or admiration ? — 
or the moment we refer to their ancient religious sig- 
nification and influence, must it be with disdain or with 
pity '' This, as it appears to me, is to take not a ra- 


tional, but rather a most irrational as well as a most 
irreverent, view of the question ; it is to confine the 
pleasure and improvement to be derived from works of 
Art within very narrow bounds ; it is to seal up a foun- 
tain of the richest poedy, and to sliut out a thousand 
ennobling and inspiring thoughts. Happily there is a 
growing appreciation of these larger principles of criti- 
cism as applied to the study of Art. People look at the 
pictures which hang round their walls, and have an 
awakening suspicion that there is more in them than 
meets the eye, — more than mere connoisseurship can 
interpret ; and that they have another, a deeper, sig- 
nificance than has been dreamed of by picture dealers 
and picture collectoi-s, or even picture critics. 

n. Of the Distinction to be drawn between 
THE Devotional and the Historical Sub- 

At first, when entering on a subject so boundless and 
so diversified, we are at a loss for some leading classi- 
fication which shall be distinct and intelligible, without 
being mechanical. It appears to me, that all sacred 
representations, in as far as they appeal to sentiment 
and imagination, resolve themselves into two great 
classes, which I shall call the devotional and the 

Devotional pictures are those which portray the ob- 
jects of our veneration with reference only to their sacred 
character, whether standing singly or in company with 
others. They place before us no action or event, real 
or supposed. They are neither portrait nor history. 
A group of sacred personages, where no action is repre- 
sented, is called in Italian a "sacra conversazione" : the 
word conversazione, which signifies a society in which 
there is communion, being here, as it appears to me, 
used with peculiar propriety. All subjects, then, which 
e.\.hibit to us sacred personages, alone or in groups, 


simpl3' in the character of superior beings, must be con- 
sidered as decotionally treated. 

But a sacred subject, without losing wholly its relig- 
ious import, becomes historical the moment it repre- 
sents any story, incident, or action, real or imagined. 
All pictures which exhibit the events of Scripture story, 
all those which express the actions, miracles, and mar- 
tyrdoms of saints, come under this class ; and to this 
distinction I must call the attention of the reader, re- 
questing that it may be borne in mind throughout this 

We must also recollect that a story, action, or fact 
may be so represented as to become a symbol expressive 
of an abstract idea: and some ScripturaFand some leg- 
endary sulijects may be devotional or historical, accord- 
ing to the sentiment conveyed ; for example, the Cruci- 
fixion and the Last Supper may be so represented as 
either to exhibit an event or to express a symbol of 
our Redemption. The raising of Lazarus exhibits, in 
the catacombs, a mystical emblem of the general resur- 
rection ; in the grand picture by Sebastian del Piombo, 
in our National Gallery, it is a scene from the life of 
our Saviour. Among the legendary subjects, the pen- 
ance of the Magdalene, and St. Martin dividing his 
cloak, may be merely incidents, or they may be sym- 
bolical, the first of penitence, the latter of charity, in 
the general sense. And, again, there are some sub- 
jects which, though expressing a scene or an action, 
are wholly mystical and devotional in their import ; 
as the vision of St. Augustine and the marriage of St. 

Among the grandest of the devotional subjects, we 
may reckon those compositions which represent the 
whole celestial hierarchy ; the divine personages of the 
Trinity, the angels and archangels, and the beatified 
spirits of the just. Such is the subject called the " Para- 
diso," so often met with in pictures and ecclesiastical 
decoration, where Christ is enthroned in glory : such 


is also the Coronation of the Virgin, that ancient and 
popular symbol of the triumph of Religion or tlie 
Church; the Adoration of the Lamb; and the Last 
Judgment, from the Apocalypse. The order of pre- 
cedence in these sacred assemblages was early settled 
by ecclesiastical authority, and was almost as absolute 
as that of a modern code of honor, ^irst after the 
Trinity, the Virgin Maiy, as Regina Angelorum, and 
St. John the Baptist : then, in order, the Evangelists ; 
the Patriarchs ; the Prophets ; the Apostles ; the Fa- 
thers ; the Bishops ; the Martyrs ; the Hermits ; the 
Virgins ; the Monks, Nuns, and Confessors^ 

As examples, I may cite the Paradiso or Angelico, 
in the Florence Academy ; the Coronation of tlie Vir- 
gin by Hans Hemling, in the Wallerstein collection, 
which contains not less than fifty-two figures, all indi- 
vidualized with their proper attributes ; and whicli, if it 
were possible, should he considered in contrast with the 
Coronation by Angelico. The Flemish painter seems 
to have carried his intense impression of earthly and 
individual life into the regions of heaven ; the Italian, 
through a purer inspiration, seems to have brought all 
Paradise down before us upon earth. In the Adora- 
tion of the Lamb by Van Eyck, there are not fewer 
than two hundred figures. For the Last Judgment, 
the grand compositions of Orcagna in the Campo 
Santoj — of Luca Signorelli and Angelico at Orvieto, 
— and the fresco of Michael Angelo in the Sistine 
Chapel, may be consulted. 

Where the usual order is varied, there is generally 
some reason for it ; for instance, in the exaltation of a 
favorite saint, as we sometimes find St. Doniinick and 
St. Francis by the side of St. Peter and St. Paul : and 
among the miniatures of that extraordinary MS., the 
Hortus Deliciarum, now at Strasbourg, painted for a 
virgin abbess, there is a " Paradiso " in which the 
painter, either by her command or in compliment 
to her, has placed the vii-gins immediately after the 


Tlie representation of the Virgin and Child with 
saints grouped around them, is a devotionaL subjc:! 
familiar to us from its constant recurrence. It also 
frequently happens that the tutelary saint of the local- 
ity, or the patron saint of the votary, is represented as 
seated on a raised throne in the centre ; and other saints, 
though under every other circumstance taking a supe- 
rior rank, become here accessaries, and are placed on 
each side or lower down in the picture : for example, 
where St. Augustine is enthroned, and St. Peter and 
St. Paul stand on each side, as in a picture by B. Vi- 
varini,* or where St. Barbara is enthroned, and Mary 
Magdalene and St. Catherine stand on each side, as in 
a picture by Matteo di Siena. t 

In such pictures, the votary or donor is often intro- 
duced kneeling at the feet of his patron, either alone or 
accompanied by his wife and other members of his 
family : and, to express the excess of his humility, he 
is sometimes so diminutive in proportion to the colos- 
sal object of his veneration, as to be almost lost to 
sight ; we have frequent examples of this naicete of sen- 
timent in the old mosaics and votive altar-pieces ; for 
instance, in a beautiful old fresco at Assisi, where the 
Magdalene, a majestic figure about six feet high, holds 
out her hand in benediction to a little Franciscan friar 
about a foot in height : but it was abandoned as bar- 
barous in the later schools of Art, and the votary, when 
retained, appears of the natural size ; as in the Madonna 
del Donatore of Raphael, f where Sigismond Conti is 
almost the finest and most striking part of that inesti- 
mable picture : and in the Madonna of the Meyer family 
by Holbein. § 

When a bishop is inti'oduced into a group of saints 
kneeling, while all the others are standing, he may be 
supposed to be the Donatore or Divoto, the person who 
presents the picture. When he is standing, he is one 
of the bishop-patrons or bishop-martyrs, of whom there 

* Venice ; SS. Giovanni e Paolo. J Rome ; Vatican, 

t Siena ; San Dominico. ^ Dresden Gal. 


are some hundreds, and who are more difficult to dis- 
crhninate than any other pictured saints. 

And this leads me to the subject of the so-called an. 
achronisms in devotional subjects, where personages who 
lived at different and distant periods of time are found 
grouped together. It is curious to find the critics of 
the last century treating with pity and ridicule, as the 
result of ignorance or a barbarous unformed taste, the 
noblest and most spiritual conceptions of poetic art. 
Even Sir Joshua Reynolds had so little idea of the true 
object and feeling of such representations, that he thinks 
it necessary to apologize for the error of the painter, or 
the mistaken piety of his employer. We must remem- 
ber that the personages here brought together in their 
sacred character belong no more to our earth, but to 
heaven and eternity : for them there is no longer time 
or place ; they are here assembled together in the per- 
petual "communion of saints," — immortal contem- 
poraries in that kingdom where the Angel of the Apoc- 
alypse proclaimed " that there should be time no 

Such groups are sometimes arranged with an artless 
solemnity, all the personages standing and looking 
straight out of the picture at the worshipper. Some- 
times there is a touch of dramatic sentiment, which, 
without interfering with the solemn devotional feeling, 
lights up the whole with the charm of a purpose : as in 
the Correggio at Parma, where St. Jerome presents his 
translation of the Scriptures to the infant Christ, while 
an angel turns the leaves, and Mary Magdalene, sym- 
bol of redemption and reconciliation, bends to kiss the 
feet of the Saviour. 

Our ancestors of the middle ages were not particular 
in drawing that strong line of deinarcation between 
the classical, Jewish, and Christian periods of history, 
that we do. They saw only Christendom everywhere ; 
they regarded the past onlj in relation to Christianity. 


Hence we find in the early ecclesiastical monuments 
and edifices sucli a strange assemblage of pagan, Scrip- 
tural, and Christian worthies; as. Hector of Troy, 
Alexander the Great, King David, Judas Maccabeus, 
King Arthur, St. George, Godfrey of Boulogne, Lu- 
cretia, Virginia, Judith, St. Elizabeth, St. Bridget (as 
in the Cross of Nuremberg). In tlie curious Manual 
of Greek Art, published by Didron, we find the Greek 
pbilosophers and poets entering into a scheme of eccle- 
siastical decoration, as in the carved stalls in the Cathe- 
dral of Ulm, where Solon, Apollonius, Plutarch, Plato, 
Sophocles, are represented, holding each a scroll, on 
which is inscribed a passage from their works, inter- 
preted into an allusion to the coming of Christ : and I 
have seen a picture of the Nativity in which the sibyls 
arc dancing hand-in-hand around the cradle of the neV- 
born Saviour. This may appear profane to some, but 
the comprehension of the whole universe within the 
pale of Christianity strikes me as being in the most 
catholic, as well as in the most poetical, spirit. 

It is in devotional subjects that we commonly find 
those anthropomorphic representations of the Divinity 
which shock devout people ; and which no excuse or 
argument can render endurable to those who see in them 
only ignorant irreverence, or intentional profaueness. 
It might be pleaded that the profaneness is not inten- 
tional ; that emblems and forms are, in the imitative 
arts, what figures of speech are in language ; that only 
through a figure of speech can any attempt be made to 
place the idea of Almighty Power before us. Pamiliar 
expressions, consecrated by Scripture usage, represent 
the Deity as reposing, waking, stretching forth his 
hand, sitting on a throne; as pleased, angry, vengeful, 
repentant ; and the ancient painters, speaking the lan- 
guage proper to their art, appear to have turned these 
emljlematical words into emiilematical pictures. I for- 
bear to say more on this point, because I have taken 
Hiroughout the poetical and not the religious view of 


Art, and this is au objection which must be leiit, as a 
matter of feeling, to the amount of candor and knowl- 
edge in the critical reader. 

In the sacred subjects, properly called historical, 
we must be careful to distinguish between those which 
are Scriptural, representing scenes from the Old or New 
Testament, and those which are Legendary. 

Of the first, for the present, I do not speak, as they 
will be fully treated hereafter. 

The historical subjects from the lives of the saints 
consist principally of Miracles and Martyrdoms. 

In the first, it is worth remarking that we have no 
pictured miracle which is not imitated from the Old or 
the New Testament (unless it be an obvious emblem, 
as where the saint carries his own head). There is no 
act of supernatural power related of any saint which is 
not recorded of some great Scriptural personage. The 
object was to represent the favorite patron as a copy of 
the great universal type of beneficence, Christ ouk 
Eedeejier. And they were not satisfied that the re- 
semblance should lie in character only ; but should 
emulate the power of Christ in his visible actions. We 
must remember that the common people of the middle 
ages did not, and could not, distinguish between mira- 
cles accredited by the testimony of Scripture, and those 
which were fabrications, or at least exaggerations. All 
miracles related as divine interpositions were to them 
equally possible, equally credible. If a more extended 
knowledge of the natural laws rendei's us in these days 
less credulous, it also shows us that many things were 
possible, under particular conditions, which were long 
deemed supernatural. 

We find in the legendary pictures that the birth of 
several saints is announced by an angel, or in a dream, 
as in the stories of St. Catherine, St. Koch, &c. They 
exhibit precocious piety and wisdom, as in the story of 
St. Nicholas, who also calms a tempest, and guides the 



itorm-tossed vessel safe to land. They walk on the 
water, as in the stories of St. Eaymond and St. Hy- 
acinth ; or a river divides, to let thera pass, as in the 
story of St. Alban. Saints are fed and comforted mirac- 
ulously, or delivered from prison by angels ; or resist 
fire, like the " Three Children." The multiplication 
of bread, and the transformation of water into wine, 
are standing miracles. But those which most frequently 
occur iu pictures, are the healing of the sick, the lame, 
the blind ; the casting out of demons, the restoration 
of the dead, or some other manifestation of compassion- 
ate and beneficent power. 

Some of the pictured legends are partly Scriptural, 
partly historical, as the story of St. Peter ; others are 
clearly religious apologues founded on fact or tradition, 
as those of St. Mary of Egypt and St. Christopher ; 
others are obviously and purely allegorical, as the 
Greek story of St. Sophia (i. e. Heavenly Wisdom, 
20$IA) and her celestial progeny, St. Faith, St. Hope, 
and St. Charity, all martyred by the blind and cruel 
pagans. The names sound as if borrowed from the 
Pilgrim's Progress ; and it is curious to find Bunyan's 
allegorical legend, the favorite picture-book of the peo- 
ple, appearing just at the time when the legends and 
pictures of the saints became objects of puritanical 
horror, and supplying their place in the popular imagi- 

JMartyrdoms are only too common : they present to 
us Christianity under its most mystical aspect, — the 
deification of suffering ; but to render these represen- 
tations efi^ctive, they should be pathetic without being 
terrible, they should speak to us 

" Of melancholy fear subdued by faith, 
Of blessed consolations in distress " ; 

but not of the horrid cruelty of man towards man. It 
has been well remarked by my friend M. Rio (to whose 
charming and eloquent exposition of Christian Art I 


refer with ever-new delight), that the early painters of 
Western Christendom avoided these subjects, and that 
their prevalence in ecclesiastical decoration marked the 
decline of religious feeling, and the degeneracy of Art. 
But this remark does not apply to Byzantine Art ; for 
we find from the exact description of a picture of the 
martyrdom of St. Euphemia (both the picture and the 
description dating from the third century), that such rep- 
resentations were then common, and were appealed to 
in the same manner as now, to excite the feelings of 
the people. 

The martjTdoms generally met with are those of 
St. Peter and St. Paul, St. Stephen Protomartyr, St. 
Laurence, St. Catherine, and St. Sebastian. These we 
find everywhere, in all countries and localities. Where 
the patron of the church or chapel is a martyr, his 
martyrdom holds a conspicuous place, often over 
the high altar, and accompanied by all the moving 
circumstances which can excite the pity or horror 
or enthusiasm of the pious votaries ; but in the best 
examples we find the saint preparing for his death, 
not suffering the torments actually inflicted ; so that 
the mind is elevated by the sentiment of his courage, 
not disturbed and disgusted by the spectacle of his 

III. Of certain Patron Saints, 

Who are commonly grouped together in Woi-ks of Art, or 
who belong to jxirticular Countries, Cities, or Local- 

While such assemblages of holy persons as are 
found grouped together in devotional pictures are to be 
considered as quite independent of chronology, we shall 
find that the selection has been neither capricious nor 
arbitrary, and, with a little consideration, we shall dis- 
cover the leading idea in the mind of the artist, — that, 



at least, which was intended to be conveyed to the 
mind of the spectator, and which was much more intel- 
liy;ible in former times than it is now. 

Sometimes we find certain saints placed in com- 
panionship, because they are the joint patrons and pro- 
tectors of the city or locality for which the picture was 
painted. Thus in the Bologna pictures we constantly 
find the bishop St. Petronius, St. Eloy, St. Dominick, 
and the warrior St. Proculus ; while in the Venetian 
pictures we have perpetual St. Marks, St. Georges, and 
St. Catherines. 

Or, secondly, they are connected by kindred powers 
and attributes. Thus we find St. Sebastian, the patron 
against pestilence, in company with St. Roch, who min- 
istered to the sick of the plague. Thus St. Catherine 
and St. Jerome, the two patrons of school theology, are 
often found in companionship. Where St. Catherine 
and St. Barbara are found together, the first figures as 
patroness of the ecclesiastical, and the second of the 
military, power, — or they represent respectively the 
contemplative and the active life. 

Or, thirdly, they are combined in the fancy by some 
inevitable association ; as St. Augustine and St. Stephen 
are often in the same picture, because St. Augustine 
dedicated some of his most eloquent works to the glory 
of the martyr. 

Or they were friends on earth, for which reason St. 
Cyprian and St. Cornelius are placed together. 

Or their relics repose in the same spot ; whence St. 
Stephen and St. Laurence have become almost insepa- 
rable. When St. Vincent and St. Laurence are placed 
together (as in a lovely composition of Parmigiano, 
where they sit reading out of the same book) it is be- 
cause of the similarity of their fate, and that the popular 
tradition supposed them to be brothers. 

A point of more general importance, and capable of 
more definite explanation, is the predominance of cer- 
tain sacred personages in particular schools of Art. 


St. Cosmo and St. Damian, for instance, are perpetu- 
ally recurring in the Florentine pictui'es as the patron 
saints of the Medici family. In the Lombard pictures 
St. Ambrose is often found without his compeers, — not 
as doctor of the Church, but as bishop of Milan. In 
the Siena pictures, we may look for the nun St. Cathe- 
rine of Siena, and St. Ansano, the apostle of the 
Sienese, holding his' banner and palm. And in the 
Augustine chapels and churches, St. Augustine figures, 
not as doctor of the Church, but as patriarch of the 

A bishop-martjT, holding his palm, and not other- 
wise designated either by name or attribute, would be 
— in one of Perugino's pictures, St. Ercolano or St. 
Costanzo ; in a Florentine picture, St. Donato or St. 
Romulo ; if the picture were painted in the March of 
Ancona, it would probably be St. Apollinaris of Ra- 
venna ; at Naples it would be St. Januarius ; at Paris, 
or in a picture painted for a French church, of which 
there are many in Italy, it would be St. Denis ; and in 
German prints, St. Boniface or St. Lambert. I need 
not further multiply examples. 

If the locality from which the picture came will 
sometimes determine the names of the personages, so 
the personages represented will often explain the pur- 
pose and intended situation of the picture. There is in 
Lord Ashburton's gallery a noble group representing 
together St. Peter, St. Leonard, St. Martha, and Mary 
Magdalene. Such a combination points it out at once 
as intended for a charitable institution, and, on inquiry, 
we find that it was painted for the chapel of a brother- 
hood associated to redeem prisoners, to ransom slaves, 
to work for the poor, and to convert the sinner to 
repentance. Many such interesting and instructive 
analogies will be pointed out in the course of the fol- 
lowing pages, and the observer of works of art will 
discover others for himself. 

I add here, in alphabetical order, those countries and 


localities of which the patron saints are distinguished 
in works of Art.* 

Ancona: St. Cyriacus, Bishop; and his mother Anna, 

Aeezzo: St. Donate, Bishop. 

AsTi, NovARA, and all through the cities of Piedmont 
and the north of Italy, we find the Warrior, St. Maurice, 
and his companions St. Secundus, St. Alexander, and the 
other Martyrs of the Theban Legion. 

Augsburg: St. Ulrich, Bishop; St. Afra, Martyr. 

Austria: St. Leopold, St. Stephen, St. Maximilian, St. 

Bamberg: St. Henry and St. Cunegunda, Emperor and 

Barcelona: St. Eulalia, Martyr. (In Spanish pic- 
tures only. ) 

Bavaria : St. George, Martyr. 

Bergamo: St. Alexander, Warrior; St. Grata, Widow. 

Bohemia: St. John Nepomuck, Priest; St. Wences- 
laus, Kinff ; St. Ludmilla, Queen ; St. Vitus, young Mar- 
tyr; St. Procopius, Hermit. 

Bologna: St. Petronius, Bishop; St. Dominic, Friar; 
St. Proculus, Warrior Martyr; St. Eloy (Eligio), Bishop 
and Smith. 

Brescia: St. Faustinus and Jovita; St. Julia, St. Afra, 

Bruges: St. John the Baptist. 

Burgundy : St. Andrew, Apostle. 

Cologne: The Three Kings; St. Ursula, Virgin Mar- 
tyr ; St. Gereon, Warrior Martyr. 

CoMO: St. Abbondio, Bishop. 

COETONA : St. Margaret, Nun and Penitent. 

Cremona : St. Omobuono, Secular Habit. 

Fekrara: St. Geminiano, Bishcp ; St. George, Martyr; 
St. Barbara, Martyr. 

* The Saints who do not appear in these volumes will be found 
in the " Legends of the Monastic Orders." 


Fiesole: St. Romolo, Bishop. 

Florence: St. John the Baptist; St. Zenobio, St. An- 
tonino, Bishops ; St. Eeparata, Virgin Martyr ; St. Cosmo 
and Damian (the Apothecarj' Saints, especial patrons of 
the Medici family) ; St. Verdiana, Nun ; St. MiniatOf 

France: St. Michael, Angel; St. Dionysius (Denis), 
Bishop ; St. Gen^vi^ve, Virgin ; St. Martin, Bishop. 

Genoa: St. George, St. Laurence, Martyrs. 

Ghent: St. Bavon, Prince and Hermit. 

Grenoble: St. Hugh the Carthusian. 

Ireland : St. Patrick, Bishop ; St. Bridget, Abbess. 

Lucca : St. Martin, Bishop ; St. Frediano, Fiiest ; St. 
Zita, Virgin. 

Liege : St. Hubert, Bishop and Huntsman ; St. Lambert, 

Madrid: St. Isidore, Laborer; St. Dominick, Friar 
(Patron of the Escurial, St Laurence). 

Mantua: St. Andrew; St. Barbara; St. George, and 
St. Longinus, Wariior Saints. 

Marseilles and all Provence : St. Lazarus ; St. Mary 
Magdalen; St. Martha; St. Marcella. 

Messina: St. Agatha, Martyr. 

Milan: St. Ambrose, Bishop and Doctor; St. Gerva- 
sius and St. Protasius, Martyrs ; St. Maurice, St. Victor, 

Modena: St. Geminiano, Bishop. (In pictures of the 
Correggio school.) 

Naples: St. Jannarius, Martyr. 

Novara : St. Gaudenzio, Bishop. 

Nuremburg: St. Laurence, Martyr; St. Sebald, Pi7- 
grim and Hermit. (The latter an important person in pic^ 
tures and prints of the Albert Diirer school.) 

Padua: St. Anthony of Padua, Friar. 

Paris: St. G^ndvieve, Virgin; St. Germain, Bishop < 
St. Hippolitus, Martyr. 

Parma: St. John, B.; St. Thomas the Apostle; St. 
Bernard, Monk ; St. Hilary (Ilario), Bishop. 


Perugia: St. Ercolano and St. Costanzo, Bishops. 

Piacenza: St. Justina, Martyr; St. Antoninus, War- 
rior (Theban Legion). 

Piedmont and Savoy: St. John, B. ; St. Maurice and 
St. George, Warr-ioi-s ; St. Amadeus, King. 

Pisa: St. Ranieri, Hermit; St. Torpe, Warrior; St. 
Ephesus and St. Potita, Warriors. (These only in the 
ancient Pisan school.) 

Ravenna: St. Apollinaris, Bishop. 

Rimini: St.' Julian, Martyr. (A young saint, popular 
all through the north and down the east coast of Italy.) 

Seville: St. Leander, fitsAo/j ; St. Justina, St. Rufina, 
Sisters and Martyrs. (These are only found in Spanish 

Sicily: St. Vitus, Martyr; St. Rosalia, Recluse (Pa- 
lermo); St. Agatha (ilessina), St. Lucia (Syracuse), 

Siena : St. Ansano, Martyr ; St. Catherine of Siena, 
Nun ; St. Bernardino, Friar. 

Thuringia and all that part of Saxony: St. Elizabeth 
of Hungary; St. Boniface, Bishop. 

Toledo: St. Ildefonso, Bishop ; and St. Leocadia, 3Iar- 
tyr. (Only in Spanish pictures.) 

Treviso: St. Liberale, Warrior. 

Turin: St. John the Baptist; St. Maurice, Warrior. 

Umbria: All through this region and the eastern coast 
of Italy, very important in respect to art, the favorite 
Saints are: St. Nicholas, Bishop; St. Francis of Assisi, 
Friar ; St. Clara, Nun ; St. Julian, Martyr ; and St. 
Catherine, Virgin Martyr. 

Valencia: St. Vincent, Martyr. 

Venice, St. Mark, Apostle ; St. George, St. Theodore, 
Warriors ; St. Nicholas, Bishop ; St. Catherine, St. Chris- 
tina, Virgin Martyrs. 

Vercelli: St. Eusebius, 5Js/io/j ; St. Thronestus, War- 
rior (Theban Legion). 

Verona: St. Zeno, Bishop; St. Fermo, Martyr; St 
Euphemia, Martyr. 


Votive Pictures are those which have been dedi- 
cated in certain religious edifices, in fulfilment of vows j 
either as the expression of thanksgiving for blessings 
which have been vouchsafed, or propitiative against 
calamities to be averted. The far greater number of 
these pictures commemorate an escape from danger, 
sickness, death ; and more especially, some visitation 
of the plague, that terrible and frequent scourge of the 
middle ages. The significance of such pictures is gen- 
erally indicated by the presence of St. Sebastian or St 
Roch, the patrons against the plague ; or St. Cosmo 
and St. Damian, the healing and medical saints ; ac- 
companied by the patron saints of the country or local- 
ity, if it be a public act of devotion ; or, if dedicated 
by private or individual piety, the donor kneels, pre- 
sented by his own patron saint. In general, though 
not always, this expressive group is arranged in at- 
tendance on the enthroned Madonna and her divine 
Son, as the universal protectors from all evil. Such 
pictures are among the most interesting and remarka- 
ble of the works of Sacred Art which remain to us, 
and have often a pathetic and poetical beauty, and an 
historical significance, which it is a chief purpose of 
these volumes to interpret and illustrate. 

IV. Or CERTAIN Emblems and Attributes. 

To know something of the attributes and emblems of 
general application, as well as those proper to each 
saint, is absolutely necessary ; but it will also greatly 
assist the fancy and the memory to understand their 
origin and significance. For this reason I will add a 
few words of explanation. 

The Glory, Nimbus, or Aureole — the Christian 
attribute of sanctity, and used generally to distinguish 
all holy personages — is of pagan origin. It expressed 


the luminous nebula (Homer, U. xxiii. 205) supposed to 
emanate from, and surround, the Divine Essence, which 
stood " a shade in midst of its own brightness." Im- 
ages of the gods were decorated with a crown of rays, 
or with stars ; and when the Roman emperors assumed 
the honors due to divinity, they appeared in public 
crowned with golden radii. The colossal statue of 
Nero wore a circle of rays, imitating the glory of the 
sun. This ornament became customary ; and not only 
the first Caesars, but the Christian emperors, adopted 
the same divine insignia ; and it became at length so 
common that we find it on some medals, round the 
heads of the consuls of the later empire. Considered 
in the East as the attribute of power only, whether good 
or evil, we find, wherever early Art has been developed 
under Byzantine influences, the nimbus thus applied. 
Satan, in many Greek, Saxon, and French miniatures, 
from the ninth to the thirteenth century, wears a glory. 
In a psalter of the twelfth century, the Beast of the 
Apocalypse with seven heads has six heads surrounded 
by the nimbus ; the seventh, wounded and drooping, 
is without the sign of power. 

But in Western Art the associations with this attri- 
bute were not merely those of dignity, but of some- 
thing divine and consecrated. It was for a long time 
avoided in the Christian repi-esentations as being ap- 
propriated by false gods or heathen pride ; and when 
first adopted does not seem clear.* The earliest exam- 
ple cited is a gem of St. Martin, of the early part of 
the sixth century, in which the glory round his head 
seems to represent his apotheosis ; and in all instances 
it is evidently intended to represent divine glory and 

The glory round the head is properly the nimbus or 
aureole. The oblong glory suiTounding the whole 
person, called in Latin the vesica jjiscis, and in Italian 

* " Avant le 5me siecle le nimbe Chretien ne se voit pas sur les 
Monuments autlientigues." — Didron, Iconographie, p. 101. 


the mandorJa (almond), from its form, is confined to 
fi<2;ures of Christ and tlie Virgin, or saints who are in 
the act of ascending into heaven. When used to dis- 
tinguish one of tlie three divine persons of the Trinity 
the glory is often cruciform or triangular. The square 
nimbus designates a person Hving at the time the work 
was executed. In the frescos of Giotto at Assisi the 
allegorical personages are in some instances distin- 
guished by the hexagonal nimbus. In other instances 
it is circular. From the fifth to the twelfth century 
the nimbus had the form of a disc or plate over the 
head.* Erom the twelfth to the fifteenth century, it 
was a broad golden band round, or rather behind, the 
head, composed of circle within circle, often adorned 
with precious stones, and sometimes having the name 
of the saint inscribed within it. From the fifteenth 
•century it was a bright fillet over the head, and in the 
seventeenth century it disappeared altogether. In pic- 
tures the glory is always golden, the color of light ; in 
miniatures and stained glass I have seen glories of va- 
rious colors, red, blue, or green. t 

The Fish was the earliest, the most universal, of the 
Christian emblems, partly as the symbol of water and 
the rite of baptism, and also because the five Greek let- 
ters which express the word Fish form the anagram of 

* A metal circle, like a round plate, was fastened on the head 
of those statues placed in the open air, to defend them from the 
rain or dust. Some of the ancient glories are very lilie those 
plates, but I do not think they are derived from them. 

t I believe these colored glories to be symbolical, but am not 
sure of the application of the colors. Among the miniatures of 
the Hortus De/iciarum, painted in 1180, is a representation of 
the celestial paradise, in which the virgins, the apostles, the 
martyrs, and confessors wear the golden nimbus ; the prophets 
and the patriarchs, the white or silver nimbus ; the saints who 
strove with temptation, the red nimbus ; those who were married 
have the nimbus green, while the beatified penitents have theira 
of a yellowish white, somewhat shaded. — DiD&os, Iconographie 
Chritienne, p. 168. 



the name of Jesus Christ. In this sense we find the 
fish as a general symbol of the Christian faith upon 
the sarcophagi of the early Christians ; on the tombs 
of the martyrs in the catacombs ; on rings, coins, lamps, 
and other utensils ; and as an ornament in early Chris- 
tian architecture. It is usually a dolphin, which among 
the Pagans had also a sacred significance. 

The passage in the Gospel, " Follow me, and I will 
make ye fishers of fnen," is supposed to have originated 
the use of this symbol ; and I may observe here, that 
the fish placed in the hands of St. Peter has probably 
a double or treble signification, alluding to his former 
occupation as a fisherman, his conversion to Chris- 
tianity, and his vocation as a Christian apostle, i. e. a 
fisher of men, in the sense used by Christ ; and in the 
same sense we find it given as an attribute to bishops 
who were famous for converting and baptizing, as St. 
Zeno of Verona, and Gregory of Tours. 

The Cross. — About the tenth century the Fish dis« 
appeared, and the Cross — symbol of our redemption, 
from the apostolic times — became the sole and univer- 
sal emblem of the Christian faith. The cross placed 
in the hand of a saint is usually the Latin cross (1), the 
form ascribed to the cross on which our Saviour suf- 
fered. Other crosses are used as emblems or ornaments, 
but still having the same signification ; as the Greek 
cross (2), in which the arms are all of the same length ; 






the transverse cross, on which St. Andrew is supposed 
to have suffered, in this form (3) ; the Egyptian cross, 
sometimes placed in the hands of St. Philip the apostle, 
and it was also the form of the crutch of St. Anthony, 


and embroidered on his cope or robe, — hence it is 
called St. Anthony's cross (4). There is also the Mal- 
tese cross, and various ornamental crosses. The double 
cross on the top of a staff, instead of the crosier, is 
borne by the Pope only ; the staff with a single cross, 
by the Greek bishops. 

At first the cross was a sign only. When formed of 
gold or silver, the five wounds of Christ were signified 
by a ruby or carbuncle at each extremity, and one in 
the centre. It was not till the sixth century that the 
cross became a Crucifix, no longer an emblem, but 
an image. 

The Lamb, in Christian Art, is the peculiar symbol 
of the Redeemer as the sacrifice without blemish : in 
this sense it is given as an attribute to John the Baptist. 
The lamb is also the general emblem of innocence, 
meekness, modesty ; in this sense it is given to St. 
Agnes, of whom IMassillon said so beautifully, " Peu 
de pudeur, oil il n'y a pas de religion ; peu de religion, 
oil il n'y a pas de pudeur." 

The Pelican, tearing open her breast to feed her 
young with her own blood, was an early symbol of our 
redemption through Christ. 

One or both of these emblems are frequently found 
in ancient crosses and crucifixes ; the lamb at the foot, 
the pelican at the top, of the cross. 

The Dragon is the eml)lera of sin in general, and 
of the sin of idolatry in particular; and tlie dragon slain 
or vanquished by the power of the cross, is the per- 
petually r'ecurring myth, which, varied in a thousand 
ways, we find running through all the old Christian 
legends : not subject to misapprehension in the earliest 
times ; but, as the cloud of ignorance darkened and 
deepened, the symbol was translated into a fact. It 
has been suggested that the dragon, which is to us a 
phantasm and an allegory, which in the middle ages was 


the visible shape of the demon adversary of all truth and 
goodness, might have been, as regards form, originally / 
a fact: for wherever we have dragon legends, whether 
the scene be laid in Asia, Africa, or Europe, the im- 
puted circumstances and the form are little varied. 
The dragons introduced into early painting and sculp- 
ture so invariably represent a gigantic winged crocodile, 
that it is presumed there must have been some common 
origin for the type chosen as if by common consent ; 
and that this common type may have been some fossil 
remains of the Saurian species, or even some far-off 
dim tradition of one of these tremendous reptiles sur- 
viving in Heaven knows what vast desolate morass or 
inland lake, and spreading horror and devastation along 
its shores. At Aix, a huge fossilized head of one of 
the Sauri was for a long time preserved as the head of 
the identical dragon subdued by St. Martha ; and St. 
Jerome relates that he had himself beheld at Tyre the 
bones of the sea monster to which Andromeda had 
been exposed, — probably some fossil remains which in 
the popular imagination were thus accounted for. Pro- 
fessor Owen told me that the head of a dragon in one 
of the legendary pictures he had seen in Italy closely 
resembled in form that of the Demotherium Giganteum. 
These observations have reference only to the type 
adopted when the old Scripture allegory took form 
and shape. The dragon of Holy Writ is the same as 
the serpent, i. e. personified sin, the spiritual enemy of 

The Scriptural phrase of the "jaws of hell " is liter- 
ally rendered in the ancient works of ait by the huge 
jaws of a dragon, wide open and emitting flames, into 
which the souls of sinners are tuml)led headlong. In 
pictures, sin is also typified by a serpent or snake ; in 
this form it is placed under the feet of the Madonna, 
sometimes with an apple in its mouth ; sometimes, but 
only in late pictures, of the seventeenth century, wind- 
ing its green, scaly length round and round a globe, 
significant of the subjugation of the whole earth to the 


power of sin till delivered by the Eedeemer. On this 
subject I shall have much more to say when treating 
of the pictures of the fall of man, and the subjects 
taken from the Apocalypse : for the present we need 
only bear in mind the various significations of the pop- 
ular Dragon myth, which may shadow forth the con- 
quest over sin, as in the legends of St. Michael and 
St. Margaret ; or over paganism, as in the legends of 
St. Sylvester and St. George ; or sometimes a destroy- 
ing flood, as in the legend of St. Martha, where the 
inundation of the Rhone is figured by a dragon emerg. 
ing from the waters and spreading around death and 
pestilence, — like the Python of the Grecian myth. 

The Lion, as an ancient Christian symbol, is of fre- 
quent recurrence, more particularly in ai'chitectural 
decoration. Antiquaries are not agreed as to the exact 
meaning attached to the mystical lions placed in the 
porches of so many old Lombard churches ; sometimes 
with an animal, sometimes with a man, in their paws. 
But we find that the lion was an ancient symbol of the 
Eedeemer, " the Lion of the tribe of Judah " ; also of 
the resun-ection of the Eedeemer ; because, according 
to an Oriental fable, the lion's cub was born dead, and 
in three days its sire licked it into life. In this sense it 
occurs in the windows of the cathedral at Bourges. In 
either sense it may probably have been adopted as a 
frequent ornament in the church utensils, and in eccle- 
siastical decoration, supporting the pillars in front, or 
the carved thrones, &c. 

The lion also typifies solitude — the wilderness ; 
and, in this sense, is placed near St. Jerome and other 
saints who did penance, or lived as hermits in the 
desert ; as in the legends of St. Paul the hermit, St. 
Mary of Egypt, St. Onofrio. Further, the lion as an 
attribute denoted death in the amphitheatre, and with 
this signification is placed near certain martyrs, as St 
Ignatius and St. Euphemia. The lion, as the type of 
fortitude and resolution, was placed at the feet of those 


martyrs who had sufFerecl with singular courage, as St. 
Adrian and St. Natalia.* 

When other wild beasts, as wolves and bears, are 
placed at the feet of a saint attired as abbot or bishop, 
it signifies that he cleared waste land, cut down forests, 
and substituted Christian culture and civilization for 
paganism and the lawless hunter's life : such is the sig- 
nificance in pictures of St. Magnus, St. Florentius, and 
St. Germain of Auxerre. 

The Hart or Hind was also an emblem of double 
signification. It was a type of solitude and of purity 
of life, and was also a type of piety and religious as- 
piration, adopted from the forty-second Psalm, " Like 
as the hart panteth after the water-brooks, so panteth 
my soul for thee, O God ! " 

When the original meaning of the lion, the hart, and 
other emblems, was no longer present to the popular 
mind, legends were invented to account for them ; and 
that which had been a symbol, became an incident, or 
an historical attribute, — as in the stories of the lion 
healed by St. Jerome, or digging the grave of St. 
Paul ; the miraculous stag which appeared to St. Eu- 
stace and St. Hubert ; the wounded doe in the legend 
of St. Giles ; and the hind which spoke to St. Juhan. 

The Peacock, the bird of Juno, was an ancient 
pagan symbol, signifying the apotheosis of an empress, 
as we find from many of the old Roman coins and 
medals. The early Christians, accustomed to this in- 
terpretation, adopted it as a general emblem of the 
mortal exchanged for the immortal existence ; and, 
witli this signification, we find the peacock with out- 
spread train on the walls and ceilings of catacombs, the 
tombs of the martyrs, and many of the sarcophagi, 

* In the example of St. Jerome, a lion may have originally 
typified any hinderance in the way of study or of duty ; in allu- 
sioQ to the text, " The slothful man saith, There is a lion in the 
way." Prov. xxvi. 13. 


down to the fourth and fifth centuries. It is only in 
modern times that the peacock has become the emblem 
of worldly pride. 

The Crown, as introduced in Christian Art, is 
either an emblem or an attribute. It has been the 
emblem from all antiquity of victory, and of recom- 
pense due to superior power or virtue. In this sense 
the word and the image are used in Scripture in many 
passages : for example, " Henceforth there is laid up 
for me a crown of glory." And in this sense, as the 
recompense of those who had fought the good fight' to 
the end, and conquered, the crown became the especial 
symbol of the glory of martyrdom. In very ancient 
pictures, a hand is seen coming out of heaven holding 
a wreath or circlet ; afterwards it is an angel who de- 
scends with the crown, which is sometimes a coronet 
of gold and jewels, sometimes a wreath of palm or 
myrtle. In general only the female martyrs wear the 
symbolical crown of glory ; martyrs of the other sex 
hold the crown in their hands, or it is borne by an 
angel. Hence we may presume that the crown, which 
among the Jews was the especial ornament of a bride, 
signified the bride or spouse of Christ — one dedicated 
to virginity for his sake ; and in this sense, down to 
the present time, the crown is placed on the head of a 
nun at the moment of consecration. Therefore in the 
old pictures of female martyrs we may interpret the 
crown in this double sense, as signifying at once the 
bride and the martyr. 

But it is necessary also to distinguish between the 
symbol and the attribute: thus, where St. Cecilia and 
St. Barbara wear the crown, it is the symbol of their 
glorious martyrdom ; when St. Catherine and St. Ur- 
sula wear the crown, it is at once as the symbol of 
martyrdom and the attribute pf their royal rank as 

The crown is also the symbol of sovereignty. When 
it is placed on the head of the Virgin, it is as Queen 


of Heaven, and also as the " Spouse " of Scripture 

But the crowTi is also an attribute, and frequently, 
when worn by a saint or placed at his feet, signifies 
that he was royal or of princely birth : as in the pic- 
tures of Louis" of France, St. William, St. Elizabeth, 
St. Helena, and many others. 

The cro^vns in the Italian pictures are generally a 
wreath, or a simple circle of gold and jewels, or a cor- 
onet radiated with a few points. But in the old Ger- 
man pictures the crown is often of most magnificent 
workmanship, blazing ^vith jewels. 

I have seen a real silver crown placed on the figures 
of certain popular saints, but as a votive tribute, not an 

The Sword is also either a symbol or an attribute. 
As a symbol it signifies generally martyrdom by any 
violent death, and, in this sense, is given to many saints 
who did not die by the sword. As an attribute it sig- 
nifies the particular death suffered, and that the martyr 
in whose hand or at whose feet it is placed was behead- 
ed : in this sense it is given to St. Paul, St. Catherine, 
and many others. It is given also to the warrior-mar- 
tyrs, as the attribute of their military profession. Other 
symbols of martyrdom are the Axe, the Lance, and 
the Club. 

Arrows, which are attributes, St. Ursula, St. Chris- 
tina, and St. Sebastian. 

The Poniard, given to St. Lucia. 

The Caldron, given to St. John the Evangelist 
and St. Cecilia. 

The Pincers and Shears, St. ApoUonia and St 

The Wheels, St. Catherine. 



Fire and Flames are sometimes an emblem of mar- 
tyrdom and punishment, and sometimes of religious 

A Bell was supposed to haTC power to exorcise 
demons, and for this reason is given to the haunted 
St. Antony. 

The Shell signifies pilgrimage. 

The Skull, penance. 

The Anvil, as an attribute of martyrdom, belongs 
to St. Adrian only. 

The Palm, the ancient classical s}-mbol of victory 
and triumph, was early assumed by the Christians as 
the universal symbol of martyrdom, and for this adap- 
tation of a pagan ornament they found warrant in 
Scripture : Rev. vii. 9, •' And after this I beheld, and, 
lo, a great multitude stood before the throne clothed 

with white robes and with palms in their hands 

And he said to me. These are they which came out 
of great tribulation." Hence in pictures of martyr- 
doms an angel descends with the palm ; hence it is fig- 
ured on the tombs of early martyrs, and placed in the 
hands of those who suffered in the cause of truth, as 
expressing their final victory over the powers of sin and 


"The sensual think with reverence of the palm 
Which the chaste votary wields." 

The palm varies in form from a small leaf to the 
size of a palm branch, almost a tree. It is very small 
in the early Italian pictures, very large in the Spanish 
pictures. In the Siena pictures it has a bunch of dates 
depending from it. It is only in late pictures that the 
palm, with a total disregard to the sacredness of its 
original signification, is placed on the ground, or under 
the feet of the saint. 



The Standard, or banner, is also the symbol of 
victory, the spiritual victory over sin, death, and idola- 
try. It is home by our Saviour after liis resurrection, 
and is placed in the hands of St. George, St. Maurice, 
and other military saints ; in the hands of some victo- 
rious martyrs, as St. Julian, St. Ansano, and of those 
who preached the Gospel among intidels ; also in the 
hands of St. Ursula and St. Re])arata, the only female 
saints, I believe, who bear this attribute. 

The Olive, as the well-kno\\Ti emblem of peace and 
reconciliation, is figured on the tombs of the early mar- 
tyrs ; sometimes with, sometimes without, the dove. 
The olive is borne as the attribute of peace by the 
angel Gabriel, by St. Agnes, and by St. Pantaleon ; 
sometimes also by the angels in a Nativity, who an- 
nounce " peace on earth." 

The Dove in Christian Art is the emblem of the 
Holy Ghost ; and, besides its introduction into various 
subjects from the New Testament, as the Annunciation, 
the Baptism, the Pentecost, it is placed near certain 
saints wiio are supposed to have been particularly in- 
spired, as St. Gregory, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Hila- 
rius, and others. 

The dove is also a symbol of simplicity and purity 
of heart, and as such it is introduced into pictures of 
female saints, and especially of the Madonna and 

It is also the emblem of the soul ; in this sense it is 
seen issuing from the lips of dying martyrs, and is 
found in pictures of St. Eulalia of Merida, and St- 
Scholastica, the sister of St. Benedict. 

The Lilt is another symbol of purity, of very gen- 
eral application. We find it in pictures of the Vir- 
gin, and particularly in pictures of the Annunciation. 
It is placed significantly in the hand of St. Joseph, the 
husband of the Virgin Mary, his staff, according to the 



legend, having put forth lilies ; it is given, as an emblem 
merely, to St. Francis, St. Anthony of Padua, St. 
Dominiek, and St. Catherine of Siena, to express the 
particular purity of their lives. 

The Unicorn is another ancient sjnnbol of purity, 
in allusion to the fable that it could never be captured 
except by a virgin stainless in mind and life ; it has 
become in consequence the emblem peculiarly oi female 
chastity, but in Christian Art is appropriate only to 
the Virgin Mary and St. Justina. 

The Flaming Heart expresses fervent piety and 
love : in early pictures it is given to St. Augustine, 
merely in allusion to a famous passage in his Confes- 
sions ; but in the later schools of Art it has become a 
general and rather vulgar emblem of spiritual love : in 
this sense it is given to St. Theresa ; St. Maria Mad- 
dalena de' Pazzi, a Florentine nun ; and some of the 
Jesuit saints. 

The Book in the hands of the Evangelists and the 
Apostles is an attribute, and represents the Gospel. In 
the hand of St. Stephen it is the Old Testament ; in 
the hand of any other saint it may be the Gospel, but 
it may also be an emblem only, signifying that the saint 
was famous for his learning or his writings ; it has this 
sense in pictures of St. Catherine, the Doctors of the 
Church, St. Thomas Aquinas, and St. Bonaventura. 

A Church placed in the hands of a saint signifies 
that he was the founder of some particular church ; in 
this sense St. Henry bears the cathedral of Bamberg; or, 
that he was the protector and first bishop of the church, 
as St. Petronius bears the cathedral of Bologna. I 
must except the single instance of St. Jerome ; the 
church in his hands signifies no particular edifice, but 
in a general sense, the Catholic Church, of which he 
was the great support and one of the primitive fathers; 


to render the symbol more expressive, rays of light are 
seea proceeding from the poital. 

The Scourge in the hand of a saint, or at his feet, 
signifies the penances he inflicted upon himself; but in 
the hand of St. Aral;)rose, it signifies the penance he 
inflicted upon others. 

The Chalice, or Sacramental Cup, with the Host, 
signifies Faith ; it is given to St. Barbara. The Cup^ 
with the Serpent, is the attribute of St. John. 

The Ship. — The Ark of Noah, floating safe amid 
the Deluge, in which all things else were overwhelmed, 
was an obvious symbol of the Church of Christ. Sub- 
sequently the Ark became a ship. St. Ambrose likens 
the Church of God to a ship, and the Cross to the 
mast set in the midst of it. " Arbor qucedam in navi est 
crux in ecdesia." The Bark of St. Peter tossed in the 
storm, and by the Redeemer guided safe to land, was 
also considered as symbolical. These mingled asso- 
ciations combined to give to the emblem of the ship a 
sacred significance. Every one who has been at Rome 
will remember the famous mosaic of the ship tossed 
by the storms, and assailed by demons, called The 
Navicella, which was executed by Giotto for the old 
Basilica of St. Peter's, and is now under the Portico, 
opposite to the principal door. I believe that in the 
pictures of St. Nicholas and St. Ursula the ship had 
originally a sacred and symbolical significance, and 
that the legends were afterwards invented or modified 
to explain the emblem, as in so many other instances. 

The Anchor is the Christian symbol of immovable 
firmness, hope, and patience ; and in this sense we find 
it very frequently in the catacombs, and'on the ancient 
Christian gems. It was given to several of the early 
saints as a symbol. Subsequently a legend was invented 
to account for the symbol, turning it into an attribute, 


as was the case with the lion and the stag. For ex- 
ample : to St. Clement the anchor was first given as 
the symbol of his constancy in Christian liope, and 
thence we find, subsequently invented, the story of his 
being thrown into the sea with the anchor round his 
neck. On the vane of the church of St. Clement in 
the Strand, the anchor, the parish device, was anciently 
placed ; and as in the Englisii fancy no anchor can he 
well separated from a ship, they have lately placed a 
ship on the other side, — the original signification of 
the anchor, as applied to St. Clement the martyr, being 
unknown or forgotten. 

The Lamp, Lantern, or Taper is the old emblem 
of piety : " Let your light so shine before men " ; and 
it also signifies wisdom. In the first sense we find this 
attribute in the hand of St. Gudula, St. Genevieve of 
Paris, and St. Bridget ; while the lamp in the hand of 
St. Lucia signifies celestial light or wisdom. 

Flowers and Fruits, often so beautifully intro- 
duced into ecclesiastical works of art, may be merely 
ornamental ; Crivelli, and some of the Venetian and 
Lombard paintei's, were fond of rich festoons of fruit, 
and backgrounds of foliage and roses. But in some 
instances they have a definite significance. Roses are 
symbolical in pictures of the Madonna, who is the 
" Rose ofSIiaron." * The wreath of roses on the brow 
of St. Cecilia, the roses and fruits borne by St. Doro- 
thea, are explained by the legends. 

The apple was the received emblem of the Fall of 
Man and original sin. Placed in pictures of the Ma- 
d'onna and Child, either in the hand of the Infant 
Christ, or presented by an angel, it signified Redemption 
from the consequences of the Fall. The pomegranate, 
bursting opeir, and the seeds visible, was an emblem of 
the future, — of hope in immortality. When an apple, 
a pear, or a pomegranate is placed in the hand of St 

* Fide " Legends of the Madonna.'' 


Catherine as the piystical Sposa of Christ, which con- 
tinually occurs, particularly in the German pictures, the 
allusion is to he taken in the Scriptural sense : " The 
fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace." 

V. Of the Significance of Colors. 

In very early Art we find colors used in a symbolical 
or m\'stic sense, and, until the ancient principles and 
traditions were wholly worn out of memory or set aside 
by the later painters, certain colors were appropriate to 
certain subjects and personages, and could not arbitra- 
rily be applied or misapplied. In the old specimens of 
stained glass we find these significations scrupulously 
attended to. Thus : — 

White, represented by the diamond or silver, was 
the emblem of light, religious purity, innocence, vir- 
ginity, faith, joy, and life. Our Saviour wears white 
after his resun-ection. In the judge it indicated integ- 
rity ; in the rich man, humility ; in the woman, chastity. 
It was the color consecrated to the Virgin, who, 
however, never wears white except in pictures of the 

Red, the ruby, signified fire, divine love, the Holy 
Spirit, heat, or the creative power, and royalty. White 
and red roses expressed love and innocence, or love and 
wisdom, as in the garland with which the angel crowns 
St. Cecilia. In a bad sense, red signified blood, war, 
hatred, and punishment. Red and black combined 
were the colors of purgatory and the Devil 

Blue, or the sapphire, expressed heaven, the firma- 
ment, truth, constancy, fidelity. Christ and the Virgin 
wear the red tunic and the blue mantle, as signifying 
heavenly love and heavenly truth.* The same colors 

* In the Spanish schools the color of our Saviour's mantle is 
generally a deep rich violet. 



were given to St. John the evangelist, with this differ- 
ence, — that he wore the blue tunic and the red mantle ; 
in later pictures the colors are sometimes red and 

Yellow, or gold, was the symbol of the sun ; of the 
goodness of God ; initiation, or marriage ; faith, or 
fruitfulness. St. Joseph, the husband of the Virgin, 
wears yellow. In pictures of the apostles, St. Peter 
wears a yellow mantle over a blue tunic. In a bad 
sense, yellow signifies inconstancy, jealousy, deceit ; in 
this sense it is given to the traitor Judas, vvho is gen- 
erally habited in dirty yellow. 

Green, the emerald, is the color of spring; of hope, 
particularly hope in immortality ; and of victory, as 
the color of the palm and the laurel. 

Violet, the amethyst, signified love and truth ; or, 
passion and suffering. Hence it is the color often worn 
by the martyrs. In some instances our Saviour, after 
his resurrection, is habited in a violet instead of a blue 
mantle. The Virgin also wears violet after the cruci- 
fixion. Mary Magdalene, who as patron saint wears 
the red robe, as penitent wears A-iolet and blue, the 
colors of sorrow and of constancy. In the devotional 
representation of her by Timotco dcUa Vite,* she 
wears red and green, the colors of love and hope. 

Gray, the color of ashes, signified mourning, humil- 
ity, and innocence accused ; hence adopted as the dress 
of the Franciscans (the Gray Friars) ; but it has since 
been changed for a dark rusty brown. 

Black expressed the earth, darkness, mourning, 
wickedness, negation, death ; and was appropriate to 
the Prince of Darkness. In some old illuminated 
MSS., Jesus, in the Temptation, wears a black robe. 

* Bologna Gallery. 


WTiite and black together signified purity of life, and 
mourning or humiliation ; hence adopted by the Do- 
minicans and the Carmelites. 

The mystical application of attributes and colors was 
more particularly attended to in that class of subjects 
I have distinguished as devotional. In the sacred his- 
torical pictures we find that the attributes are usually 
omitted as superfluous, and characteristic propriety of 
color often sacrificed to the general effect. 

These introductory observations and explanations 
will be found illustrated in a variety of forms as we 
proceed ; and readers ^vill be led to make comparisons, 
and discover analogies and exceptions, for themselves. 
I must stop here ; — yet one word more. — 

All the productions of Art, from the time it has been 
directed and developed by Christian influences, may be 
regarded under three different aspects. 1. The purely 
religious aspect, which belongs to one mode of faith ; 
2. The poetical aspect, which belongs to all ; 3. The 
artistic, which is the individual point of view, and has 
reference only to the action of the intellect on the means 
and material employed. There is pleasure, intense 
pleasure, merely in the consideration of Art as Art; 
in the faculties of comparison and nice discrimina- 
tion, brought to bear on objects of beauty ; in the ex- 
ercise of a cultivated and refined taste on the productions 
of mind in any form whatever. But a threefold, or 
rather a thousand-fold, pleasure is theirs who to a sense 
of the poetical unite a sympathy with the spiritual in 
Art, and who combine with delicacy of perception, and 
technical knowledge, more elevated sources of pleasure, 
more variety of association, habits of more excursive 
thought. Let none imagine, however, that, in placing 
before the uninitiated these unpretending volumes, I 
assume any such superiority as is here implied. Like 
a child that has sprung on a little way before its play- 
mates, and caught a glimpse through an opening porta\ 



of some varied Eden within, all gay with flowers, and 
musical with birds, and liaunted by divine shapes which 
beckon onward ; and, after one rapturous survey, runs 
back and catches its companions by the hand and hur- 
ries them forwards to share the new-found pleasure, the 
yet unexplored region of delight ; even so it is with 
me : — I am on the outside, not the inside, of the door 
I open. 



" Ye too must fly before a chasing hand, 
Angels auJ saints in every hamlet mourned I 
Ah ' if the old idolatry be spurned. 
Let not your radiant shapes desert the land ! 
Her adoration was not your demand, — 
The fond heart proffered it, — the servile heart, 
And therefore are ye summoned to depart ; 
Michael, and thou St. George, whose flaming brand 
The Dragon quelled ; and valiant Margaret, 
Whose rival sword a like opponent slew ; 
And rapt Cecilia, seraph-haunted queen 
Of harmony ; and weeping Magdalene, . 

Who in the penitential desert met 
Gales sweet as those that over Eden blew ! " 


'"I can just remember,' says a theologian of the last century, 
'when the women first taught me to say my prayers, I used to 
have an idea of a venerable old man, of a composed, benign 
countenance, with his own hair, clad in a morning gown of a 
grave-colored flowered damask, sitting in an elbow-chair.' And 
he proceeils to say that, in looking back to these beginnings, he 
is in no way disturbed at the prossness of his infant theology. 
The image thus shaped by the imagination of the child was, in 
truth, merely one example of the various forms and conceptions 
fitted to divers states and seasons, and orders and degrees, of the 
religious mind, whether infant or adult, which represent the 
several approximations such minds at such seasons can respec- 
tively make to the completeness of faith. These imperlect ideas 
should be held to be reconciled and cirmprehended in that com- 
pleteness, not rejected by it ; and the nearest approximation 
which the greatest of human minds can accomplish is surely to 
be regarded as much nearer to the imperfection of an infantine 
notion than to the fulness of truth The gown of flowered 
damask and the elbow-chair may disappear ; the anthropomor- 
phism of childhood may give place to the divine incarnation 
of the Second Person in after-years ; and we may come to con- 
ceive of the Deity as Milton did when his epithets were most 
abstract : — 

'So spake the Sovran Presence.' 

But after all, these are but difl"erent grades of imperfection in 
the forms of doctrinal faith ; and if there be a devouter love on 
the part of the child for what is pictured in his imagination as a 
venerable old man, than in the philosophic poet for the 'Sovran 
Presence,' the child's faith has more of the efficacy of religious 
truth in it than the poet's and philosopher's." (A'ide " Notes on 
Life," by He.nry Tatlok, p. 136.) 


I. The Angels. 

HERE is something so very attractive and 
poetical, as well as soothing to our helpless 
finite nature, in all the superstitions con- 
nected with the popular notion of Angels, 
that we cannot wonder at their prevalence in the early 
ages of the world. Those nations who acknowledged 
one Almighty Creator, and repudiated with horror the 
idea of a plurality of Gods, were the most willing to 
accept, the most enthusiastic in accepting, these objects 
of an intermediate homage ; and gladly placed between 
their humanity and the awful supremacy of an unseen 
God the ministering spirits who were the agents of his 
will, the witnesses of his glory, the partakers of his 
bliss, and wlio in their preternatural attributes of love 
and knowledge filled up that vast space in the created 
universe which intervened between mortal man and the 
infinite, omnipotent Lord of All. 

The belief in these superior beings, dating from im- 
memorial antiquity, interwoven as it should seem with 
our very nature, and authorized by a variety of passa- 
ges in Scripture, has descended to our time. Although 
the bodily forms assigned to them are allowed to be 
impossible, and merely allegorical, although their sup- 
posed functions as rulers of the stars and elements have 
long been set aside by a knowledge of the natural 


laws, still the coexistence of many orders of beinjrs 
superior in nature to ourselves, benignly interested in 
our welfare, and contending for us against the powers 
of evil, remains an article of faith. Perhaps the be- 
lief itself, and the feeling it excites in the tender and 
contemplative mind, were never more beautifully ex- 
pressed than by our owq Spenser. 

" And ig there care in heaven 1 And is there love 
In heavenly spirits to these creatures base, 
That may compassion of their evils move ? 
There is ! — else much more wretched were the case 
Of men than beasts ' But th' exceeding grace 
Of highest God that loves his creatures so, 
And all his works with mercy doth embrace, 
That blessed angels he sends to and fro 
To serve to wicked man, to serve his wicked foe ! 

"How oft do they their silver bowers leave. 
And come to succor us that succor want ! 
How oft do they with golden pinions cleave 
The flitting skies, like flying pursuivant, 
Against foul fiends, to aid us militant ! 
They for us fight, they watch, and duly ward. 
And their bright squadrons round about us plant, 
And all for love, and nothing for reward ! 
why should heavenly God to men have such regard ! " 

It is this feeling, expressed or unexpressed, lurking at 
the very core of all hearts, which renders the usual rep- 
resentation'3 of angels, spite of all incongruities of form, 
so pleasing to the fancy : we overlook the anatomical 
solecisms, and become mindful only of that emblemati- 
cal significance which through its humanity connects it 
with us, and through its supernatui'al appendages con- 
nects %is with heaven. 

But it is necessary to give a brief summary of the 
Scriptural and theological authorities, relative to the na- 
ture and functions of angels, before we can judge of 
the manner in which these ideas have been attended to 
and carried out .n the artistic similitudes. Thus angels 
are represented H the Old Testament, — 


1 . As beings of a higher nature than men, and gifted 
with superior intelligence and righteousness.* 

2. As a host of attendants surrounding the throne of 
God, and as a kind of celestial court or council. t 

3. As messengers of His will conveyed from heaven 
to earth : or as seat to guide, to correct, to instruct, to 
reprove, to console. 

4. As protecting the pious. 

5. As punishing by command of tiie Most High the 
h'icked and disobedient. J 

6. As having the form of men ; as eating and drinking. 

7. As wielding a sword. 

8. As having power to slay. § 

I do not recollect any instance in which angels are 
represented in Scripture as instigated by human pas- 
sions ; they are merely the agents of the mercy or the 
wrath of the Almighty. 

After the period of the captivity, the Jewish ideas 
concerning angels were considerably extended and 
modified by an admixture of the Chaldaic belief, and 
of the doctrines taught by Zoroaster. || It is then that 
we first hear of good and bad angels, and of a fallen 
angel or impersonation of evil, busy in working mis- 
chief on earth and counteracting good ; also of archan- 
gels, who are alluded to by name ; and of guardian an- 
gels, assigned to nations and individuals ; and these for- 
eign ideas concerning the spiritual world, accepted and 
promulgated by the Jewish doctors, pervade the whole 
of the New Testament, in which angels are far more 
familiar to us as agents, more frequently alluded to, 
and more distinctly brought before us, than in the Old 
Testament. For example : they are represented, — 

* 2 Sam. xiv. 17. 

t Gen. xxxii. 1, 2 ; Ps. ciii. 21; 1 Kings x.xii. 19 ; Job i. 6. 

X Gen. xxii. 11 ; Exod. xiv. 19 ; Num. xx. 16 ; Gen. xxi. 17 i 
Judg. xiii. 3 ; 2 Kings i. 3 ; Ps. xxxiv. 7 ; Judith xiii. 20. 

§ -Z Sam. xxiv. 16 ; 2 Kings xix. 35 ; Gen. xviil 8 ; Num. xxii. 
31 ■, 1 Chron. xxi. 16 ; Gen. xix. 13. 

II Calmet. 




1. As countless. 

2. As superior to all human wants and weaknesses. 

3. As the deputed messengers of God. 

4. They rejoice over the repentant sinner. They 
take deep interest in the mission of Christ. 

5. They are present with those who pray ; they bear 
the souls of the just to heaven. 

6. They minister to Christ on earth, and will be 
present at his second coming.* 

In the Gospel of St. John, which is usually regarded 
as the fullest and most correct exposition of the doc- 
trines of Christ, angels are only three times mentioned, 
and in none of these instances does the word angel fall 
from the lips of Christ. On the other hand, the writ- 
ings of St. Paul, who was deeply versed in all the 
learning and philosophy of the Jews, abound in allu- 
sions to angels, and, according to the usual interpreta- 
tion of certain passages he shows them divided into 
several classes. t St. Luke, who was the friend and 
disciple of St. Paul, some say his convert, is more di- 
rect and explicit on the subject of angels than any of 
the other Evangehsts, and his allusions to them much 
more frequent. 

The worship of angels, which the Jews brought from 
Chaldea, was early introduced into the Christian 
Church. In the fourth century the council of Laodi- 
cea published a decree against places of worship dedi- 
cated to angels under names which the Church did not 
recognize. But neither warning nor council seems to 
have had power to modify the popular creed, counte- 
nanced as it was by high authority. All the Fathers 
are unanimous as to the existence of angels good and 
evil. They hold that it is evermore the allotted task 

* Matt. xxvi. 53 ; Heb. xii. 22 ; Matt. xxll. 30 ; Luke xx. 36 •, 
Matt. xix. 24 ; Luke i. 11 ; Acts v. 19 et passim ; Luke xv. 10 •, 
1 Peter i. 12 ; Luke xvi. 22 ; Heb. i. 14 ; 1 Cor. xi. 10 ; Matt. i. 20^ 
rvi. 27, XXV. 31. 

t Kom. viii. 38 ; Col. i. 16 ; Ephes. i. 21. 


of good ansels to defend us against evil angels, and to 
carry on a daily and liourly combat against our spirit- 
ual foes : they teach that the good angels are worthy 
of all reverence as the ministers of God and as the pro- 
tectors of the human race ; that their intercession is to 
be invoked, and their perpetual, invisible presence to be 
regarded as an incitement to good and a preventive to 

This, however, was not enough. Taking for their 
foundation a few Scripture texts, and in particular the 
classification of St. Paul, the imaginative theologians 
of the middle ages ran into all kinds of extravagant 
subtleties regarding the being, the nature, and the func- 
tions of the different orders of angels. Except as far 
as they have been taken as authorities in Art, I shall 
set aside these fanciful disquisitions, of which a mere 
abstract would fill volumes. For our present purpose 
it is sufficient to bear in mind that the great theologi- 
ans divide the angelic hosts into three hierarchies, and 
these again into nine choirs, three in each hierarchy : 
according to Dionysius the Areopagite, in the following 
order: 1. Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones. 2. Domina- 
tions, Virtues, Powers. 3. Princedoms, Archangels, 
Angels. The order of these denominations is not the 
same in all authorities : according to the Greek formula, 
St. Bernard, and the Legenda Aurea, the Cherubim 
precede the Seraphim, and in the hymn of St. Ambrose 
they have also the precedence, — To Thee, Cherubim 
and Seraphim continually do cry, &c. ; but the authority 
of St. Dionysius seems to be admitted as paramount, 
for according to the legend he was the convert and in- 
timate friend of St. Paul, and St. Paul, who had been 
transported to the seventh heaven, had made him ac- 
quainted with all he had there beheld. 

" Desire 
In Dionysius so intensely wrougiit 
Ttiat he, as I have done, ranged them, and named 
Their orders, marshalled in his thought ; 
.... For he had learned 


Both this and much beside of these our orbs 
From an eyewitness to Heaven's mysteries." 

Dante, Par. 28. 

The first three choirs receive their glory immediatelj 
from God, aud transmit it to the second ; the second 
illuminate the third ; the third are placed in relation to 
the created universe and man. The first Hierarchy are 
as councillors ; the second, as governors , the third, as 
ministers. The Seraphim are absorbed in perpetual 
love and adoration immediately round the throne of 
God. The Cherubim know and worship. The Thrones 
sustain the seat of the Most High. The Dominations, 
Virtues, Powers, are the Eegents of stars and elements. 
The three last orders. Princedoms, Archangels, and 
Angels, are the protectors of the great Monarchies on 
earth, and the executors of the will of God throughout 
the universe. 

The term angels is properly applied to all these ce- 
lestial beings ; but it belongs especially to the two last 
orders who are brought into immediate communication 
with the human race. The word angel, Greek in its 
origin, signifies a messenger, or more literally a bringer 
of tidings. In this sense, the Greeks entitle Christ 
" The gr^at Angel of the will of God " ; and I have 
seen Greek representations of Ciirist with wings to his 
shoulders. John the Baptist is also an angel in this 
sense ; likewise the Evangelists ; all of whom, as I 
shall show hereafter, bear, as celestial messengers, the 

In ancient pictures and illuminations which exliibit 
the glorification of the Trinity, Christ, or the Virgin, 
the hierarchies of angels are represented in circles 
around them, orb within orb. This is called a glory 
of angels. In pictures, it is seldom complete : instead 
of nine circles, the painters content themselves with one 
or two circles only. The innermost circles, the Sera- 
phim and the Cherubim, are in general represented as 
heads merely, with two or four or six wings, and of a 
bright-red or blue color ; sometimes with variegated 



wings, green, yellow, violet, &c. This emblem — in- 
tended to shadow forth to human comprehension a 
pure spirit glowing with love and intelligence, in which 
all that is bodily is put away, and only the head, the 
seat of soul, and wings, the attribute of spirit and swift- 
ness, retained — is of Greek origin. When first adopted 
I do not know, but I have met with it in Greek MSS. 
of the ninth century. Down to the eleventh century 
the faces were human, but not childish; the infant 
head was afterwards adopted to express innocence in 
addition to love and intelligence. 

Such was the expressive and poetical symbol which 
degenerated in the later periods of Art into those little 
fat baby heads, with curly hair, and small wings under 
the chin, which the more they resemble nature in color, 
feature, and detail, the more absurd they become, the 
original meaning being wholly lost or perverted. 

In painting, where a glory of angels is placed round 
the Divine Being or the glorified Virgin, those forming 
the innermost circle are, or ought to be, of a glowing 
red, the color of fire, that is, of love ; the next circle is 
painted blue, the color of the firmament, or light, that 
is, of knowledge. Now as the word serapji is derived 
from a Hebrew root signifying love, and the word 
cherub from a Hebrew root signifying to know, should 
not this distinction fix the proper place and name of 
the first two orders 1 It is admitted that the spirits 
which love are'' nearer to God than those which know, 
since we cannot know that which we do not first love ; 
that Love and Knowledge, " the two halves of a divided 
world," constitute in their union the perfection of the 
angelic nature; but the Seraphim, accoi-ding to the 
derivation of their name, should love most ; their whole 
being is fused, as it were, in a glow of adoration ; 
therefore they should take the precedence, and their 
proper color is red. The Cherubim, "the lords of 
those that know," come next, and are to be painted 


Thus it should seem that, in considering the religious 
pictui'es of the early ages of Art, we have to get rid of 
certain associations as to color and form, derived from 
the phraseology of later poets and the representations 
of later painters. " Blue-eyed Seraphim," and the 
" blue depth of Seraphs' eyes," are not to be thought 
of any more than "smiling Cherubim." The Sera- 
phim, where distinguished by color, are red ; the 
Cherubim, blue: the proper character, where character 
is attended to, is, in the Seraph, adoration ; in the 
Cherub, contemplation. So Milton : — 

" With thee bring 
Him who soars on golden wing, 
The Cherub, Contemplation." 

I remember a little Triptyca, a genuine work of 
Fiesole, in which one of the lateral compartments rep- 
resents his favorite subject, the souls of the blessed 
received into Paradise. They are moving from the 
lower part of tlie picture towards the top, along an as- 
cent paved witli flowers, all in white garments and 
crowned with roses. At one side, low down, stands a 
blue Cherub robed in drapery spangled with golden 
stars, who seems to encourage tlie blessed group. 
Above are the gates of licaven. Christ welcomes to 
his kingdom the beatified spirits, and on each side 
stands a Seraph all of a glowing red, in spangled 
drapery. The figures are not here merely heads and 
wings, but full length, having all that soft, peculiar gi-ace 
which belongs to the painter.* 

In a Coi'onation of the Virgin, t a glory of Seraphim 

* I know not whether it be necessary to observe here, that in 
early Art the souls of the blessed are not represented as angels, 
nor regarded as belonging to this order of spiritual beings, 
though I believe it is a very common notion that we are to rise 
from the dead with the angelic attributes as well as the angelic 
nature. For this belief there is no warrant in Scripture, unless 
Mark xii. 25 be so interpreted. 

t Now in the Collection of Prince Wallerstein at Kensington 


over-arches the principal group. Here the angelic be- 
ings are wliolly of a briglit-red color : they are human 
to tiie waist, with hands clasped in devotion : the bodies 
and arms covered with plumage, l)ut the forms termi 
nating in wings ; all uniformly red. In the same col- 
lection is a small Greek picture of Christ receiving the 
soul of the Virgin ; over his head hovers a large, 
fiery-red, six-winged Seraph ; and on each side a Ser- 
aph with hair and face and limbs of glowing red, and 
with white draperies. Vasari mentions an Adoration 
of the Magi by Liberate of Verona, in which a group 
of angels, all of a red color, stand as a celestial guard 
round the Virgin and her divine Infant.* 

The distinction of hue in the red and blue angels we 
find wholly omitted towards the end of the fifteenth 
century. Cherubim with blue, red, green, and variegat- 
ed wings we find in the pictures of Perugino and other 
masters in the beginning of the sixteenth century, also 
in early pictures of Raphael. Liberale di Verona has 
given us, in a Madonna picture. Cherub heads without 
wings, and of a blue color, emerging from golden 
clouds. And in Raphael's Madonna di San Sisto the 
whole background is formed of Cherubim and Sera- 
phim of a uniform delicate bluish tinge, as if composed 
of air, and melting away into an abyss of golden glory, 
the principal figures standing relieved against this flood 
of living love and light — beautiful ! So are the Cher- 
ubim with many-colored wings which float in the firma- 
ment in Perugino's Coronation of the Virgin ; but none 
of these can be regarded as so theologically correct as 
the fiery-red and bright-blue Seraphim and Cherubim, 
of which are formed the hierarchies and glories which 
figure in the early pictures, the stained glass, the 
painted sculpture, and the illuminated MSS. from the 
tenth to the sixteenth century. 

The next five choirs of angels, the Thrones, Domi- 
nations, Princedoms, Virtues, Powers, though classed 
and described with great exactitude by the theologians, 

* Vasari, p. 648, Fl. edit. 


have not been very accurately discriminated in Art. In 
some examples the Thrones have green wino-s, a fiery 
aureole, and bear a tlirone in their hands. The Domi- 
nations, Virtues, and Powers, sometimes bear a globe 
and a long sceptre surmounted by a cross. The Prin- 
cipalities, according to the Greek formula, should bear 
a branch of lily. The Archangels are figured as war- 
riors, and carry a sword with the point upwards. The 
angels are robed as deacons, and carry a wand. In 
one of the ancient frescos in the Cathedral at Orvieto 
there is a complete hierarchy of angels, so arranged as 
to symbolize the Trinity, each of the nine choirs being 
composed of three angels, but the Seraphim only are 
distinguished by their red color and priority of place. 
In tlie south porch of the Cathedral of Chartres, each 
of the nine orders is represented by two angels: in 
other instances, one angel only represents the order to 
which he belongs, and nine angels represent the whole 
hierarchy.* Where, however, we meet with groups or 
rows of angels, as in the Greek mosaics and the earliest 
frescos, all alike, all with the tiara, the long sceptre- 
like wands, and the orb of sovereignty, I believe these 
to represent the Powers and Princedoms of Heaven. 
The Archangels alone, as we shall see presently, have 
distinct individual names and attributes assigned to 

The angels, generally, have the human form ; are 
winged; and are endowed witli immutable happiness 
and perpetual youth, because they are ever in the pres- 
ence of Him with whom there is no change and no 

* I saw in the palace of the Bishop of Norwich an elegant little 
bas-relief in alabaster, exhibiting the nine choirs, each repre- 
sented by a single angel. The first (the Seraphim) hold the sacra- 
mental cup ; the Cherubim, a book ; the Thrones, a throne ; the 
Principalities, a bunch of lilies ; the Archangels are armed. The 
other attributes are not clearly made out. The figures have been 
ornamented with painting and gilding, now partially worn off, 
and the style is of the early part of the fifteenth century. It ap- 
peared to me to have formed one of the compartments of an altar. 


time. Tliey are direct emanations of the beautj' of 
the Eternal mind, therefore beautiful; created, there- 
fore, not eternal, but created perfect, and immortal in 
their perfection : they are always supposed to be mas- 
culine ; perhaps for the reason so beautifully assigned 
by Madame de Staiil, " because the union of power 
with purity [la force avec la pureU) constitutes all that 
we mortals can imagine of perfection." There is no 
sucn tiling as an old angel, and therefore there ought 
to be no such thing as an infant angel. The introduc- 
tion of infant angels seems to have arisen from the cus- 
tom of representing the regenerate souls of men as 
new-bora infants, and perhaps also from the words of 
our Saviour, when speaking of children : " I say unto 
you, their angels do always behold the face of my 
Father which is in heaven." Such representations, 
when religiously and poetically treated as spirits of 
love, intelligence, and innocence, are of exquisite beau- 
ty, and have a significance which charms and elevates 
the fancy ; but from this, the true and religious concep- 
tion, the Italian putti and puttini, and the rosy, chubby 
bab'es of the Flemish school, are equally remote. 

In early Art, the angels in the bloom of adolescence 
are ahvays amply draped ; at first, in the classical tunic 
and pallium ; afcerwards in long linen vestments with 
the alba and stole, as levites or deacons ; or as princes, 
with embroidered robes and sandals, and jewelled 
crowns or fillets. Such figures are common in the 
Byzantine mosaics and pictures. The expression, in 
these early representations, is usually calm and impas- 
sive. Angels partially draped in loose, fluttering, mere- 
tricious attire, poised in attitudes upon clouds, or with 
features animated by human passion, or limbs strained 
by human efibrt, are the innovations of more modern 
Art. White is, or ought to be, the prevailing color in 
angelic draperies, but red and blue of various shades 
are more frequent ; green often occurs ; and in the 
Venetian pictures, yellow, or rather saffron-colored, 
robes are not unfrequent. In the best examples of 


Italian Art the tints, though varied, are tender and del- 
icate ; all dark, lieavy colors and violent contrasts of ^ 
color are avoided. On the contrary, in the early Ger- 
man school the angels have rich, heavy, voluminous 
draperies of the most intense and vivid colors, often 
jewelled and embroidered with gold. Flight, in such 
garments, seems as difficult as it would be to swim in 
coronation robes. 

But, whatever be the treatment as to character, lin- 
eaments, or dress, wings are almost invariably the at- 
tribute of the angelic form. As emblematical append- 
ages, these are not merely significant of the character 
of celestial messengers, for, from time immemorial, 
wings have been the Oriental and Egyptian symbol of 
power, as well as of swiftness ; of the spiritual and 
aerial, in contradistinction to the human and the earth- 
ly. Thus, with the Egyptians, the winged globe sig- 
nified power and eternity, that is, the Godhead ; a bird, 
with a human head, signified the soul ; and nondescript 
creatures, with wings, abound not only in the Egyptian 
paintings and hieroglyphics, but also in the Chaldaic 
and Babylonian remains, in the Lycian and Nineveh 
marbles, and on the gems and other relics of the Gnos- 
tics. I have seen on the Gnostic gems figures with 
four wings, two springing from the shoulders and two 
from the loins. The portentous figure, from the ruins 
of Nineveh, is similarly constructed. 

In Etruscan Art all their divinities are winged ; and 
where Venus is represented with wings, as in many of 
the antique gems (and by Correggio in imitation of 
them),* these brilliant wings are not, as some have sup- 
posed, emblematical of the transitoriness, but of the 
might, the majesty, and the essential divinity of beauty. 
In Scripture, the first mention of Cherubim with wings 
is immediately after the departure of the Israelites from 
Egypt (Exod. xxxi. 2). Bezaleel, the first artist whose 
name is recorded in the world's history, and who ap- 
pears to have been, like the greatest ai-tists of modem 

* As in the picture in our National Gallery, No. 10. 


times, at once architect, sculptor, and painter, proTiably 
derived Iiis figures of Cherubim with outstretched 
wings, guarding the mercy-seat, from those Egyptian 
works of art with which the Israelites must have been 
familiarized. Clement of Alexandria is so aware of 
the relative similitude, that he supposes the Egyptians 
to have borrowed from the Israelites, which is obviously 
the reverse of the truth. How far the Cherubim, which 
figure in the Biblical pictures of the present day, re- 
semble the carved Cherubim of Bezaleel we cannot 
tell, but probably the idea and the leading forms are 
the same ; for the ark, we know, was carried into Pal- 
estine; these original Cherubim were the pattern of 
those which adorned the temple of Solomon, and these, 
again, were the prototype after which the imagery of 
the second temple was fashioned. Although in Scrip- 
ture the shape under which the celestial ministers ap- 
peared to man is nowhere described, except in the 
visions of the prophets (Dan. x. 5), and there with a 
sort of dreamy, incoherent splendor, rendering it most 
perilous to clothe the image placed before the fancv in 
definite forms, still the idea of wings, as the angelic 
appendages, is conveyed in many places distinctly, and 
occasionally with a picturesque vividness which inspires 
and assists the artist. For instance, in Daniel, ch. vii., 
"they had wings like a fowl." In Ezekiel, ch. i., " their 
wings were stretched upward when they flew ; when 
they stood, they let down their wings." " I heard the 
noise of their wings as the noise of great waters." And 
in Zechariah, ch. v., "I looked, and behold there came 
out two women, and the wind was in their wings, for 
they had wings like the wings of a stork." And Isaiah, 
ch. vi., in the description of the Seraphim, "Each one 
had six wings ; with twain he covered his face, and 
with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did 
fly." By the early artists this description was followed 
out in a manner more conscientious and reverential 
than poetical. 

They were content with a symbol. But mark how 


Milton, more daring, could paint from the same origi- 
nal : — 

" A seraph winged ; six wings he wore to shade 
His lineaments divine ; the pair that clad 
Each shoulder broad, came mantling o'er his breast 
■With regal ornament ; the middle pair 
Girt like a stan'y zone his waist, and round 
Skirted his loins and thighs with downy gold 
And colors dipped in heaven ; the third his feet 
Shadowed from either heel with feathered mail, 
Sky-tinctured grain." 

I have sometimes thought that Milton, in his descrip- 
tions of angels, was not indebted rlierely to tlie notions 
of the old theological writers, interpreted and embel- 
lished by his own fancy : may he not, in his wander- 
ings through Italy, have beheld with kindling sympathy 
some of those glorious creations of Italian Art, which, 
when I saw them, made me break out into his own 
divine language as the only fit utterance to express 
those forms in words ? — But, to return : Is it not a 
mistake to make the wings, the feathered appendages 
of the angelic form, as like as possible to real wings, — 
the wings of storks, or the wings of swans, or herons, 
borrowed for the occasion ? Some modern painters, 
anxious to make wings look "natural," have done this; 
Delaroche, for instance, in his St. Cecilia. Infinitely 
more beautiful and consistent are the nondescript wings 
which the early painters gave their angels : — large, — 
so large, that when the glorious creature is represented 
as at rest, they droop from the shoulders to the ground ; 
with long, slender feathers, eyed sometimes like the 
peacock's train, bedropped with gold like tlie pheasant's 
breast, tinted with azure and violet and crimson, 
"colors dipped in heaven," — they are really angel- 
wings, not bird-wings. 

Orcagna's angels in the Campo Santo are, in this 
respect, peculiarly poetical. Their extremities are 
wings instead of limbs ; and in a few of the old Italian 
and German painters of the fifteenth century we find 

ANGELS. 6 1 

angels whose extremities are formed of light, waving 
folds of pale rose-colored or azure drapery, or of a sort 
of vapory cloud, or, in some instances, of flames. 
The clierubim and seraphim which surround the simil- 
itude of Jehovah when he appears to Moses in the 
burning bush,* are an example of the sublime and 
poetical significance which may be given to this kind 
of treatment. They have heads and human features 
marvellous for intelligence and beauty ; their hair, 
their wings, their limbs, end in lambent fires ; they are 
" celestial Ardors bright," which seem to have being 
without shape. 

Dante's angels have less of dramatic reality, less of 
the aggrandized and idealized human presence, than 
Milton's. They are wondrous creatures. Some of 
them have the quaint, fantastic picturesqueness of old 
Italian Art and the Albert Durer school ; for instance, 
those in the Purgatorio, with their wings of a bright 
green, and their green draperies, " verde come fo- 
gliette," kept in a perpetual state of undulation by the 
breeze created by the fanning of their wings, with 
features too dazzling to be distinguished : — 

" Ben discerneva in lor la testa bionda, 
Ma nelle facce 1' occhio si smarria 
Come virtu ch' a ti'oppo si confonda." t 

And the Shape glowing red as in a furnace, with an air 
from the fanning of its wings, " fresh as the first breath 
of wind in a May morning, and fragrant as all its 
flowers." That these and other passages scattered 
through the Purgatorio and the Paradiso assisted the 
fancy of the earlier painters in portraying their angelic 
Glories and winged Beatitudes, I have little doubt ; but, 
on the other hand, the sublime angel in the Inferno, — 
be who comes speeding over the waters with vast pinions 
like sails, sweeping the evil spirits in heaps before him, 
" like frogs befoi-e a serpent," and with a touch of his 

* Vatican : Raphael's fresco. 

t V. Purg. c. viii. ; Par. c. xxxi. ; Purg. c. xxiv 


wand making the gates of the city of Dis fly open ; 
then, with a countenance solemn and majestic, and 
quite unmindful of his worshipper, as one occupied by 
higiier matters, turning and soaring away, — this is 
quite in the sentiment of the grand old Greek and 
Itahan mosaics, which preceded Dante by some cen- 

But besides being the winged messengers of God to 
man, the deputed regents of the stars, the rulers of the 
elements, and the dispensers of the fate of nations, 
angels have another function in which we love to con- 
template them. They are the choristers of heaven. 
Theirs is the privilege to sound that hymn of praise 
which goes up from this boundless and harmonious 
universe of suns and stars and worlds and rejoicing 
creatures, towards the God who created them ; theirs 
is the music of the spheres, — 

" They sing, and singing in their glory move " ; 

they tune divine instruments, named after those of 
earth's harmonies, — 

" The harp, the solemn pipe 
And dulcimer, all organs of sweet stop, 
All sounds on fret by string or golden wire. 

Ami with songs 
And choral symphonies, day without night. 
Circle hia throne rejoicing." 

There is nothing more beautiful, more attractive, in 
Art than the representations of angels in this character. 
Sometimes they form a chorus round the glorified 
Saviour, when, after his sorrow and sacrifice on earth, 
he takes his throne in heaven ; or, when the crown is 

* The Cherubim in the upper lights of the painted windows at 
St. Michael's, Coventry, and at Cirencester, are represented each 
standing on a white wheel with eight spokes. They have six 
wings, of peacocks' feathers, of a rich yellow color. A white 
cross surmounts the forehead, and both arms and legs are covered 
with short plumage. The extremities are human and bare. At 
Cirencester the Cherubim hold a book ; at Coventry, a scroll. 


placed on the head of the Maternal Virgin in glory, 
pour forth their triumphant song, and sound their sil- 
ver clarions on high : sometimes they stand or kneel 
before the Madonna and Child, or sit upon the steps of 
her throne, singing — with such sweet, earnest faces ! 
or playing on their golden lutes, or piping celestial 
sympliouies ; or they bend in a choir from the opening 
heavens above, an(i welcome, with triumphant songs, 
the liberated soul of the saint or martyr ; or join in St. 
Cecilia's Hymn of praise : but whatever the scene, in 
these and similar representations, they appear in their 
natural place and vocation, and harmonize enchantingly 
with all our feelings and fancies relative to these angelic 
beings, made up of love and music. 

Most beautiful examples of this treatment occur both 
in early painting and sculpture ; and no one who has 
wandered through churches and galleries, with feeling 
and observation awake, can fail to remember such. It 
struck me as characteristic of the Venetian school, that 
the love of music seemed to combine with the sense 
of harmony in color ; nowhere have I seen musical 
angels so frequently and so beautifully introduced : and 
whereas the angelic choirs of Fiesole, Ghirlandajo, and 
Raphael, seem to be playing as an act of homage for 
the delight of the Divine Personages, those of Vivarini 
and Bellini and Palma appear as if enchanted by their 
own music ; and both together are united in the grand 
and beautiful angels of Melozzo da Forli, particularly 
in one who is bending over a lute, and another who, 
with a triumphant and ecstatic expression, strikes the 
cymbals.* Compare the cherubic host who are pouring 
forth their hymns of triumph, blowing their uplifted 
trumpets, and touching immortal|^]iari)S and viols in 
Angelico's " Coronation," t or in SignoreUi's " Para- 
diso," X with those lovely Venetian choristers, the piping 
boys, myrtle-crowned, who are hymning Bellini's Ma- 

* In the sacristy of the Vatican. t Iq the Louvre. 

X In the Cathedral at Orvieto. 


donna, * or those who are touching the lute to the praise 
and glory of St. Ambrose in Yivarini's most beautiful 
picture ; you will feel immediately the distinction in 
point of sentiment. 

The procession of chanting angels which once sur- 
mounted the organ in the Duomo of Florence is a 
perfect example of musical angels applied to the pur- 
pose of decoration. Perhaps it was well to remove this 
exquisite work of art to a place of safety, where it can 
be admired and studied as a work of art ; but the re- 
moval has taken from it the appropriate expression. 
How they sing ! — when the tones of the organ burst 
forth, we might have fancied we heard their divine 
voices through the stream of sound ! The exquisite 
little bronze choristers round the high altar of St. An- 
tonio in Padua are another example ; Florentine in 
elegance of form, Venetian in sentiment, intent upon 
their own sweet song ! 

There is a third function ascribed to these angelic 
natures, which brings them even nearer to our sym- 
pathies : they are the deputed guardians of the just and 
innocent. St. Raphael, whose story I shall presently 
relate, is the prince. of the guardian angels. The Jews 
held that the angels deputed to Lot were his guardian 
angels. t The fathers of the Christian Church taught 
that every human being, from the hour of his birth to 
that of his death, is accompanied by an angel appointed 
to watch over him. The Mahometans give to each of 
us a good and an evil angel ; but the early Christians 
supposed us to be attended each by a good angel only, 
who undertakes that office, not merely from duty to 
God, and out of obedience and great humility, but as 
inspired by exceeding charity and love towards his 
human charge. It would require the tongues of angels 
themselves to recite all that we owe to these benign and 
rigilant guardians. They watch by the cradle of the 

* In the Frari at Venice. f Gen. xviii., xlviii. 16. 


new-born babe, and spread their celestial wings round 
the tottering steps of ini'ancy. If the path of life be 
difficult and thorny, and evil spirits work us shame 
and woe, they sustain us ; they bear the voice of our 
complaining, of our supplication, of our repentance, up 
to the foot of God's throne, and bring us back in re- 
turn a pitying benediction, to strengthen and to cheer. 
When passion and temptation strive for the mastery, 
they encourage us to resist : when we conquer, they 
crown us ; when we falter and fail, they compassionate 
and grieve over us ; when we are obstinate in polluting 
our own souls, and perverted not only in act, but in 
will, they leave us, — and woe to them that are so left ! 
But the good angel does not quit his charge until his 
protection is despised, rejected, and utterly repudiated. 
Wonderful the fervor of their love, — wonderful their 
meekness and patience, — who endure from day to day 
the spectacle of the unveiled human heart with all its 
miserable weaknesses and vanities, its inordinate desires 
and selfish purposes ! Constant to us in death, they 
contend against the powers of darkness for the emanci- 
pated spirit : they even visit the suffering sinner in 
purgatory ; they keep alive in the tormented spirit 
faith and hope, and remind him that the term of ex- 
piation will end at last. So Dante (Purg., c. viii.) 
represents the souls in purgatory as comforted in their 
misery; and (which has always seemed to me a touch 
of sublime truth and tenderness) as rejoicing over those 
who were on earth conspicuous for the very virtues 
wherein themselves were deficient. When at length 
the repentant soul is sufficiently purified, the guardian 
angel bears it to the bosom of the Saviour. 

The earlier painters and sculptors did not, appar- 
ently, make the same use of guardian angels that we 
so often meet with in works of Modern Art. Poetical 
allegories of angels guiding the steps of childhood, ex- 
tending a shield over innocence, watching by a sick-bed, 
do not, I tliink, occur before the seventeenth century ; 
at least I have not met with such. Tiie ancient mas- 


ters, who really believed in the personal agency of onr 
angelic guardians, beheld them with awe and reverence, 
and reserved their presence for great and solemn occa- 
sions. The angel who presents the pious votary to 
Christ or the Virgin, who crowns St. Cecilia and St. 
Valerian after their conquest over human weakness ; 
the angel who cleaves the air " with flight precipitant " 
to break the implements of torture, or to extend the 
palm to the dying martyr, victorious over pain ; the 
angels who assist and carry in their arms the souls of 
the just ; are, in these and all similar examples, repre- 
sentations of guardian angels. 

Such, then, are the three great functions of the 
angelic host : they are Messengers, Choristers, and 
Guardians. But angels, without reference to their in- 
dividuality or their ministry, — with regard only to 
their species and their form, as the most beautiful and 
the most elevated of created essences, as intermediate 
between heaven and earth, — are introduced into all 
works of art which have a sacred purpose or character, 
and must be considered, not merely as decorative acces- 
sories, but as a kind of presence, as attendant witnesses ; 
and, like the chorus in the Greek tragedies, looking on 
where they are not actors. In architectural decoration, 
the cherubim with which Solomon adorned his temple 
have been the authority and example (1 Kings vi. 23). 
" Within the oracle he made two cherubims, each ten 
cubits high, and with wings five cubits in length, [the 
angels in the old Christian churches on each side of the 
altar correspond with these cherubim,] and he over- 
laid the cherubims with gold, and carved all the walls 
of the house with carved figures of cherubims, and he 
made doors of olive-tree, and he carved on them figures 
of cherubims." So, in Christian art and architecture, 
angels, with their beautiful cinctured heads and out- 
stretched wings and flowing draperies, fill up every 
space. The instances are so numerous that they will 
occur to every one who has given a thought to the sub- 


]ect. I may mention the frieze of angels in Henry the 
Seventh's Chapel, merely as an example at hand, and 
whicii can be referred to at any moment ; also the 
angels round the choir of Lincoln Cathedral, of whicli 
there are fine casts in the Crystal Palace at Sydenham ; 
and in some of the old churches in Saxony which 
dearly exhibit the influence of Byzantine Art, — for 
instance, at Freyberg, Merseburg, Naumburg, — angels 
with outspread wings till up the spandrils of the arches 
along the nave. 

But, in the best ages of Art, angels were not merely 
employed as decorative accessories ; they had their ap- 
propriate place and a solemn significance as a part of 
that theological system which the edifice, as a whole, 

As a celestial host surrounding the throne of the 
Trinity ; or of Christ, as redeemer or as judge ; or of 
the Virgin in glory ; or the throned Madonna and 
Child ; their place is immediately next to the Divine 
Personages, and before the Evangelists. 

In what is called a Liturgy of angels, they figure in 
procession on each side of the choir, so as to have the 
appearance of approaching the altar : they wear the 
stole and alba as deacons, and bear the implements of 
the mass. In the Catliedral of Rheims there is a range 
of colossal angels as a grand procession along the vaults 
of the nave, who appear as approaching the altar : 
these bear not only the gospel, the missal, the sacra- 
mental cup, the ewer, the taper, the cross, «Sbc., but also 
the attributes of sovereignty celestial and terrestrial : 
one carries the sun, another the moon, a third the 
kingly sceptre, a fourth the globe, a fifth the sword ; 
and all these, as they approach the sanctuary, they 
seem alx)ut to place at the feet of Christ, who stands 
there as priest and king in glory. Statues of angels 
ill an attitude of worship on each side of the altar, 
as if adoring the sacrifice, — or bearing in triumph 
the instruments of Christ's passion, the cross, the 
nails, the spear, the crown of thorns, — or carrying 


tapers, — are more common, and must be regarded 
not merely as decoration, but as a presence in tlie high 

In the Cathedral of Auxerre may be seen angels 
attending on the triumphant coming of Christ ; and, 
which is most singular, they, as well as Christ, are on 

When, in subjects from Scripture history, angels 
figure not merely as attendants and spectators, but as 
personages necessary to the' action, they are either 
ministers of the divine wrath or of the divine mercy ; 
agents of destruction or agents of help and good coun- 
sel. As all these instances belong to the historical 
scenes of the Old or the New Testament, they will be 
considered separately, and I shall confine myself here 
to a few remarks on the introduction and treatment of 
angels in some subjects of peculiar interest. 

In relating " the expulsion of Adam and Eve from 
Paradise," it is not said that an angel was the imme- 
diate agent of the divine wrath, but it is so represented 
in works of Art. In the most ancient treatment I have 
met with,* a majestic armed angel drives forth the de- 
linquents, and a cherub with six wings stands as guard 
before the gate. I found the s»me motif in the sculp- 
tures on the fa9ade of the Duomo at Orvicto, by Nic- 
colo Pisano. In another instance, an ancient Saxon 
miniature, the angel is represented, not as driving them 
forth, but closing the door against them. But these 
are exceptions to the usual mode of treatment, which 
seldom varies ; the angel is not represented in wrath, 
but calm, and stretches forth a sword, which is often 
(literally rendering the text) a waving, lambent flame. 
I remember an instance in which the preternatural 
sword, " turning every way," has the form of a whee/ 
of flames. 

An angel is expressly introduced as a minister of 
wrath in the story of Balaam, in which I kave seen no 

* MS. 10th century, Paris, Bibl. Nationale. 


deviation from the obvious prosaic treatment, rendering 
the text literally, " and the ass saw the angel of the 
Lord standing iu the way, and his sword drawn in his 

" The destroying angel, leaning from heaven, pre^ 
sents to David three arrows, from which to choose, — 
war, pestilence, or famine." I have found this sul)ject 
beautifully executed in several MSS., for instance, in 
the " Heures d'Anne de Bretagne " ; also iu pictures 
and in prints. 

" The destroying angel sent to chastise the arrogance 
of David is beheld standing between heaven and earth 
with his sword stretched over Jerusalem to destroy it." 
Of this sublime vision I have never seen any but the 
meanest representations ; none of the great masters 
have treated it ; perhaps Rembrandt might have given 
us the terrible and glorious angel standing like a shadow 
in the midst of his own intense irradiation, David fallen 
on his face, and the sons of Oman hiding themselves 
by their rude threshing-floor, with that wild mixture of 
the familiar and the unearthly in which he alone has 

" The chastisement of Heliodorus " has given occa- 
sion to the sublimest composition in which human 
genius ever attempted to emiiody the conception of the 
supernatural, — Raphael's fresco in the Vatican. St. 
Michael, the protecting angel of the Hebrew nation, is 
supposed to have been the minister of divine wrath on 
this occasion ; but Raphael, in omitting the wings, and 
all e.xaggeration or alteration of the human figure, has 
shown how unnecessary it was for him to have recourse 
to the prodigious and impossible in form, in order to 
give the supernatural in sentiment. The unearthlv 
warrior and his unearthly steed, — the weapon in his 
hand, which is not a sword to pierce, nor a club to 
strike, but a sort of mace, of which, as it seems, a touch 
would annihilate ; the two attendant spirits, who come 
gliding above the marble floor, with their hair streaming 
back with the rapidity of their aerial motion, — are in 


the very spirit of Dante, and, as conceptions of super- 
human power, superior to anything in pictured form 
which Art has becjueathed to us. 

In calling to mind the various representations of the 
angels of the Apocalypse let loose for destruction, one 
is tempted to exclaim, "0 for a warning voice!" 
When the Muse of Milton quailed, and fell ten thou- 
sand fathom deep into Bathos, what could be expected 
from human invention ? In general, where this subject 
is attempted in pictures, we find the angels animated, 
hke those of Milton in the war of heaven, with " fierce 
desire of battle," breathing vengeance, wrath, and fury. 
So Albert Durer, in those wonderful scenes of his 
" Apocalypse," has exhibited them ; but some of the 
early Italians show them merely impassive, conquering 
almost without effort, punishing without anger. The 
immediate instruments of the wrath of God in the day 
of judgment are not angels, but devils or demons, 
generally represented by the old painters with every 
possible exaggeration of hideousness, and as takmg a 
horrible and grotesque delight in their task. The 
demons are fallen angels, their deformity a consequence 
of their fall. Thus, in some very ancient represen- 
tations of the expulsion of Lucifer and his rebel host, 
the degradation of the form increases with their dis- 
tance from iieaven.* Those who are uppermost are 
still angels ; they bear the aureole, the wings, and the 
tunic ; they have not yet lost all their original bright- 
ness : those below them begin to assume the bestial 
form : the fingers become talons, the heads become 
horned ; and at last, as they touch the confines of the 
gulf of hell, the transformation is seen complete, from 
the luminous angel, into the abominable and monstrous 
devil, witk serpent tail, claws, bristles, and tusks. This 
gradual transformation, as they descend into the gulf 
of sin, has a striking allegorical significance which can- 
not escape the reader. In a Greek MS. of the ninth 

* MS. 13th century, Breviaire de St. Louis. 


century,* bearing sinjrular traces of antique classical art 
in the conception and attriliutes of tlie figures, I found 
both angels and demons treated in a style quite peculiar 
and poetical. The angels are liere gigantic, majestic, 
Jove-like figures, with great wings. The demons are 
also majestic graceful winged figures, but painted of a 
dusky gray color (it may originally have been black). 
In one scene, where Julian the Apostate goes to seek 
the heathen divinities, they are thus represented, that is, 
as black angels ; showing that the painter had here 
assumed the devils or demons to be the discrowned and 
fallen gods of the antique world. 

These are a few of the most striking instances of 
angels employed as ministers of wrath. Angels, as 
ministers of divine grace and mercy, — 

" Of all those acts which Deity supreme, 
Doth ease its heart of love in," — 

occur much more frequently. 

The ancient heresy, that God made use of the agency 
of angels in the creation of the world, and of mankind, 
I must notice here, because it has found its way into 
Art ; for example, in an old miniature which represents 
an angel having before him a lump of clay, a kind of 
ebauche of humanity, which he appears to be moulding 
with his hands, while the Almighty stands by directing 
the work.f This idea, absurd as it may ajjpear, is not 
perhaps more absurd than the notion of those who 
would represent the Great First Cause as always busied 
in fashioning or altering the forms in his visible crea- 
tion, like a potter or any other mechanic. But as we 
are occupied at present with the Scriptural, not the 
legendary subjects, I return to the Old Testament. 
The first time that we read of an angel sent as a mes- 
senger of mercy, it is for the comfort of poor Hagar ; 

* Paris, Bibl. Nat., No. 510. G. MS. 

t As in the legend of Prometheus. (Plato, Protag., p. 320.) 


when he found her weeping hy the sprine;' of water in 
the wilderness, because her mistress had afflicted her : 
and again, when she was cast fortli and her boy fainted 
for thirst. In tlie representation of these subjects, I do 
not Ivnow a sino-le instance in whicli the usual angelic 
form has not been adhered to. In the sacrifice of Isaac, 
" the angel of the Lord calls to Abraham out of 
heaven." This subject, as the received type of the 
sacrifice of the Son of God, was one of the earliest in 
Christian Art. We find it on the sarcophagi of the 
third and fourth centuries ; but in one of the latest only 
have I seen a personage introduced as staying the hand 
. of Abraham, and this personage is without wings. In 
painting, the angel is sometimes in the act of taking 
the sword out of Abraham's hand, which expresses the 
nature of his message : or he lays one hand on his arm, 
and with the other points to the rain whith was to re- 
place the sacrifice, or brings the ram in his arms to the 
altar ; but, whatever the action, the form of the angelic 
messenger has never varied from the sixth century. 

In the visit of the angels to Abraham, there has been 
a variety caused by the worditig of the text. It is not 
said that three angels visited Aljraham, yet in most of 
the ancient representations the three celestial guests are 
winged angels. I need hardly observe that these three 
angels are assumed to be a ficure of the Trinity, and 
in some old illuminations the interpretation is not left 
doubtful, the angels being characterized as the three 
persons of the Trinity, wearing each the cruciform 
nimbus : two of them, young and beardless, stand 
behind ; the third, representing the Father, has a beard, 
and, before Him, Abraham is prostrated. Beautiful 
for grace and simplicity is the winged group by Ghi- 
berti, in which the three seem to step and move together 
as one. More modern artists have given us the celes- 
tial visitants merely as men. Pre-eminent in this style 
of conception are the pictures of Raphael and Murillo. 
Raphael here, as elsewhere, a true poet, has succeeded 
hi conveying, with exquisite felicit}-, tlie sentiment of 


poNv^r, of a heavenly presence, and of a mysterious 
signhicance. The tliree youths, who stand hnked to- 
gether hand in liand before tlie Patriarch, with such an 
air of benign and superior grace, want no wings to 
show us tliat they belong to the courts of heaven, and 
have but just descended to earth, — 

" So lively shines 
In them flivine resemblance, and such grace 
The hand thai formed them on their shape hath poured 1 " 

IMurillo, on the contrary, gives us merely three 
young men, travellers, and has set aside wholly 
both the angelic and the mystic character of the vis- 

The angels who descend and ascend the ladder in 
Jacob's dream are ia almost every instance represented 
in the usual form ; sometimes a few,t — sometimes in 
multitudes, t — sometimes as one only, who turns to 
bless the sleeper before he ascends ; § and the ladder is 
sometimes a flight, or a series of flights, of steps ascend- 
ing from earth to the empyrean. But here it is Ivem- 
brandt who has shown himself the poet ; the ladder is 
a slanting stream of light ; the angels are mysterious, 
bird-like, luminous forms, which emerge one after an- 
other from a dazzling fount of glory, and go floating 
up and down, — so like a dream made visible ! — In 
Middle- Age Art, this vision of Jacob occurs very rarely. 
I shall have to return to it when treating of the subjects 
from the Old Testament. 

In the New Testament angels are much more fre- 
quently alluded to than in the Old ; more as a reality, 
less as a vision ; in fact, there is no important event 
throughout the Gospels and Acts in which angels do 
not appear, either as immediate agents, or as visible and 

* Sutherland Gallery, 
t As in Raphael's fresco in the Vatican. 

{ As in the picture by AUston, painted for Lord Egremont, and 
now at Petivorth. 
§ As in a picture by F. Bol. 


present ; and in scenes where they are not distinctly 
said to be visibly present, they are assumed to be so in- 
visibly, St. Paul having said expressly that " their 
ministry is continual." It is therefore with undeniable 
propriety that, in works of Art representing the in- 
cidents of the Gospels, angels should figure as a per- 
petual presence, made visible under such forms as 
custom and tradition have consecrated. 

I pass over, for the present, the grandest, the most 
important mission of an angel, the announcement 
brought by Gabriel to the blessed Virgin. I shall 
have to treat it fully hereafter.* The angel who 
appears to Joseph in a dream, and the angel who 
commands him to flee into Egypt, was in both cases 
probably the same angel who hailed Mary as blessed 
above all women ; but we are not told so ; and accord- 
ing to some commentators it was the guardian angel 
of Joseph who appeared to him. In these and other 
scenes of the New Testament, in whicii angels are 
described as direct agents, or merely as a chorus of 
ministering attendants, they have the usual form, en- 
hanced by as much beauty and benignity and aerial 
grace as the fancy of the artist could bestow on them. 
In the Nativity they are seen hovering on high, pour- 
ing forth their song of trium])h ; they hold a scroll in 
their hands on which their song is written ; in general 
there are three angels ; the first sings, Gloria in excelsis 
Deo! the second, Et in terra pax! the third, Hominibm 
bonce voluntatis ! but in some pictures the three angels 
are replaced by a numerous choir, who raise the song 
of triumph in the skies, while others are seen kneeling 
round and adoring the Divine Infant. 

The happiest, the most beautiful, instance I can re- 
member of this particular treatment is the little chapel 
in the Riccardi Palace at Florence. This chapel is in 
the form of a Greek cross, and the frescos are thus 
disposed : — 

* See " Legends of the Madonna." 
















The walls 1 , 2, and 3 are painted with the journey of 
the Wise Men, who, with a long train of attendants 
mounted on horseback and gorgeously apparelled, are 
seen travelling over hill and dale led by the guiding 
star. Over the altar was the Nativity (now removed) ; 
on each side (4, 5) is seen a choir of angels, perhaps 
fifty in number, rejoicing over the birth of the Re- 
deemer : some kneel in adoration, with arms folded 
over the bosom, others offer flowers ; some come dan- 
cing forward with flowers in their hands or in the lap of 
their robe ; others sing and make celestial music : they 
have glories round their heads, all inscribed alike, 
" Gloria in excelsis Deo." The naive grace, the beau- 
tiful devout expression, the airy movements of these 
lovely beings, melt the soul to harmony and jov. The 
chapel having been long shut up, and its existence 
scarcely remembered, these paintings are in excellent 
preservation ; and I saw nothing in Italy that more 
impressed me with admiration of the genuine feelino- 
and piety of the old masters. The choral angels o1 
Angelico da Fiesole already described are not more 
pure in sentiment, and are far less animated, than 

* For several curious and interesting particulars relative to 
these subjects, see the " Legends of the Madonna." 


But how different from both is the ministry of the 
angels in some of the pictures of the sixteenth and 
seventeenth centuries, both German and Italian ! The 
Virgin Mary is washing her Divine Infant ; angels 
dry the clothes, or pour out water ; Joseph is planing 
a board, and angels assist the Infant Saviour in sweep- 
ing up the chips. In a beautiful little Madonna and 
Child, in Prince Wallerstein's collection, an angel is 
playing with the Divine Infant, is literally his play- 
fellow ; a very graceful idea, of which I have seen but 
this one instance. 

In the Flight into Egypt, an angel often leads the 
ass. In the Riposo, a subject rare before the fifteenth 
century, angels offer fruit and flowers, or bend down 
the branches of the date-tree, that Joseph may gather 
the fruit ; or weave the choral dance, hand in hand, 
for the delight of the Infant Christ, while others make 
celestial music, — as in Vandyck's beautiful picture in 
Lord Ashburton's collection. After the Temptation, 
they minister to the Saviour in the wilderness, and 
spread for him a table of refreshment, — 

" Celestial food divine. 
Ambrosial fruit, fetched from the tree of life, 
And from the fount of life ambrosial drink." 

It is not said that angels were visibly present at the 
baptism of Christ ; but it appears to me that they 
ought not, therefore, to be supposed absent, and that 
there is a propriety in making them attendants on this 
solemn occasion. They are not introduced in the very 
earliest examples, those in the catacombs and sarcoph- 
agi ; nor j-et in the mosaics of Ravenna ; because 
angels were then rarely figured, and instead of the 
winged angel we have the sedge-crowned river god, 
representing the Jordan. In the Greek formula, they 
are required to be present " in an attitude of respect " -. 
no mention is made of their holding the garments of 
our Saviour ; but it is certain that in Byzantine Art, 
and generally from the twelfth century, this has been 

ANGELS. -jj 

the usual mode of representing them. According to 
the Fathers, our Saviour had no guai-dian angel ; be- 
cause he did not require one : notwithstanding the 
sense usually given to the text, " He shall give his 
angels charge concerning thee, lest at any time thou 
dash thy foot against a stone," the angels, they affirm, 
were not the guardians, but the servants, of Christ ; 
and hence, I presume, the custom of representing 
them, not merely as present, but as ministering to 
him during the baptism. The gates of San Paolo 
(tenth century) afford the most ancient example I 
have met with of an angel holding the raiment of 
the Saviour : there is only one angel. Giotto intro- 
duces two graceful angels kneeling on the bank of the 
river, and looking on with attention. Tlie angel in 
Raphael's composition bows his head, as if awe-struck 
by the divine recognition of the majesty of the Re- 
deemer ; and the reverent manner in which he holds 
the vestment is very beautiful. Other examples will 
here suggest themselves to the reader, and I sliall re- 
sume the subject when treating of the life of om- Sav- 

In one account of our Saviour's agony in the garden 
of Gethsemane, it is e.xpressly said that an angel " ap- 
peai-ed unto him out of heaven, strengthening him " ; 
therefore, where this awful and pathetic subject has 
been attempted in Art, there is propriety in introdu- 
cing a visible angel. Notwithstanding the latitude thus 
allowed to the imagination, or perhaps for that very 
reason, the greatest and the most intelligent paintei's 
have here fallen into strange errors, both in conception 
and in taste. For instance, is it not a manifest impro- 
priety to take the Scripture phrase in a literal sense, 
and place a cup in the hand of the angel ? Is not, the 
word cup here, as elsewhere, used as a metaphor, sig- 
nifying tlic destiny awarded by Divine will, as Christ 
had said before, " Ye shall drink of my cup," and as 
we say, " his cup overflowed with blessings " ? The 


angel, therefore, who does not bend from heaven to 
announce to him the decree he knew full well, nor to 
present the cup of bitterness, but to strengthen and 
comfort him, should not bear the cup ; — still less the 
cross, the scourge, the crown of thorns, as in many 

Where our Saviour appears bowed to the earth, 
prostrate, half swooning with the anguish of that 
dread moment, and an angel is seen sustaining him, 
there is a true feeling of the real meaning of Scrip- 
ture ; but even in such examples the effect is often 
spoiled by an attempt to render the scene at once 
more mystical and more palpable. Thus a painter 
equally remarkable for the purity of liis taste and 
deep religious feeling, Niccolo Poussin, has represented 
Christ, in his agony, supported in the arms of an 
angel, while a crowd of child-angels, very much like 
Cupids, appear before him with the instruments of the 
Passion ; ten or twelve bear a huge cross ; others hold 
the scourge, the crown of thorns, the nails, the sponge, 
the spear, and exhibit them before liim, as if these were 
the images, these the terrors, which could overwhelm 
with fear and anguish even the human nature of such 
a Being ! * It seems to me also a mistake, when the 
angel is introduced, to make him merely an accessory 
(as Raphael has done in one of his early pictures), a 
little figure in the air to help the meaning : since the 
occasion was worthy of angelic intervention, in a visi- 
ble shape, bringing divine solace, divine sympathy, it 
should be represented under a form the most mighty 
and the most benign that Art could compass ; — but 
has it been so ? I can recollect no instance in which 
the failure has not been complete. If it be said that to 
render the angelic comforter so superior to tbe sorrow- 
ing and prostrate Redeemer would be to detract from 
His dignity as the principal personage of tlie scene, 
and thus violate one of the first rules of Art, I think 

* The picture is, I suspert, not ''y Poussin. but by Stella. There 
is another, similar, by Guido ; Louvrfc, 1067. 



differently, — I think it could do so only in unskilful 
hands. Represented as it ought to be, and might be, 
it would infinitely enhance the idea of that unimagina- 
ble anguish which, as we are told, was compounded of 
the iniquities and sorrows of all humanity laid upon 
Him. It was not the pang of the Mortal, but the Ira- 
mortal, which required the presence of a ministering 
spirit sent down from heaven to sustain him. 

In the Crucifi.Kion, angels arc seen lamenting, wring- 
ing their hands, averting or hiding their faces. In the 
old Greek crucifixions, one angel bears the sun, an- 
other the moon, on each side of the cross : — 

" Dim sadness did not spare, 
That time, celestial visages." 

Michael Angelo gives us two unwinged colossal-look- 
ing angel heads, which peer out of heaven in the back- 
ground of his Crucifixion in a manner truly supernat- 
ural, as if they sympathized in the consummation, but 
in awe rather than in grief. 

Angels also receive in golden cups the blood which 
flows from the wounds of our Saviour. This is a rep- 
resentation which lias the authority of some of the most 
distinguished and most spiritual among the old paint- 
ers, but it is to my taste particularly unpleasing and 
unpoetical. Raphael, in an early picture, the only cru- 
cifixion he ever painted, thus introduces the angels ; 
and this form of the angelic ministry is a mystical ver- 
sion of the sacrifice of the Redeemer not uncommon in 
Italian and German pictures of the sixteenth century. 

As the Scriptural and legendary scenes in which 
angels form the poetical machinery will be discussed 
hereafter in detail as separate subjects, I shall conclude 
these general and preliminary remarks with a few words 
on the chai-acteristic style in which the principal paint- 
ers have set forth the angelic forms and attributes. 

It appears that, previous to the end of the fourth 
century, there were religious scruples which forbade 
the representation of angels, arising perhaps from the 


scandal caused in the eaiiy Church by the worship 
paid to these supernatural beings, and so strongly op- 
posed by tlie primitive teachers. We do not find on 
any of the Christian relics of the tirst three centuries, 
neither in the catacombs, nor on the vases or the sar- 
cophagi, any figure which could be supposed to repre- 
sent what we call an angel. On one of the latest sar- 
cophagi, we find little winged figures, but evidently the 
classical winged genii, used in the classical manner as 
ornament only.* In the second council of Kice, John 
of Thessalonica maintained that angels have the human 
form, and may be so represented ; and the Jewish doc- 
tors had previously decided that God consulted his 
angels when he said, " Let us make man after our 
image," and that consequently we ma}' suppose the 
angels to be like men, or, in the words of tlie prophet, 
"like unto the simihtude of the sons of men." f (Dan. 
X. 16.) 

But it is evident that, in the first attempt at angelic 
effigy, it was deemed necessary, in giving tiie human 
shape, to render it as superhuman, as imposing, as 
possible : colossal proportions, mighty overshadowing 
wings, kingly attributes, these we find in the earliest 
figures of angels which I believe exist, — the mosaics 
in the church of Santa Agata at Ravenna (a. d. 400). 
Christ is seated on a throne (as in the early sarcoph- 
agi) : he holds the Gospel in one hand, and with the 
left gives the benediction. An angel stands on each 
side : they have large wings, and bear a silver wand, 
the long sceptre of tlie Grecian kings ; they are robed 
in classical drapery, but wear the short pallium (the 
" garb succinct for flight ") ; their feet are sandalled, 
as prepared for a journey, and their hair bound by a 
fillet. Except in the wings and short pallium, they 
resemble tlie figures of Grecian kings and priests in 
the ancient bas-reliefs. 

This was the truly majestic idea of an angelic pres- 

* Ciampini, p. 131. a. d. 394. t Greek MS. A. d. 86T. 

ANGELS. 8 1 

ence (in contradistinction to the angelic emWem), which, 
well or ill executed, prevailed during the first ten cen- 
turies. In the MS.* already referred to as containing 
such magniticent examples of this Godlike form and 
bearing, one group less ruined than most of the others 
is Jacob wrestling with the angel. The drawing is 
wonderful for the period, that of Charlemagne. The 
mighty Being grasps the puny mortal, who was per- 
mitted for a while to resist him ! — " He touched the 
hollow of Jacob's thigh, and it was out of joint," — 
the action is as significant as possible. The drapery 
of the angel is white ; the fillet binding tlie hair, the 
sandals, and the wings, of purple and gold. 

From the eleventh to the thirteenth century the 
forms of the angels became, like all things in the then 
degraded state of Byzantine Art, merely conventional. 
They are attired either in the imperial or the sacerdotal 
vestments, as already described, and are richly orna- 
mented, tasteless and stiff, large without grandeur, and 
in general ill drawn. 

On the revival of Art, we find the Byzantine idea 
of angels everywhere prevailing. Tiie angels in Ci- 
mabue's famous " Virgin and Child enthroned " are 
grand creatures, rather stern ; but this arose, I think, 
from his inability to express beauty. The colossal 
angels at Assisi (a.d. 1270), solemn sceptred kingly 
forms, all alike in action and attitude, appeared to me 

In the angels of Giotto (a.d. 1.310) we see the com- 
mencement of a softer grace and a purer taste, further 
developed by some of his scholars. Benozzo Gozzoli 
and Orcagna have left in the Campo Santo examples of 
the most graceful and fanciful treatment. Of Benozzo's 
angels in the Riccardi palace I have spoken at length. 
His master Angelico (worthy tlie name !) never reached 
the same power of expressing the rapturous rejoicing 
of celestial beings, but his conception of the angelic 

* Paris, Bib. Nat., No. 510. 


nature remains unapproached, unapproachable (a. d. 
1430) ; it is only his, for it was the gentle, passionless, 
refined nature of the recluse which stamped itself there. 
Angelico's angels are unearthly, not so much in form 
as in sentiment ; and superhuman, not in power, but 
in purity. In other hands, any imitation of his soft 
ethereal grace would become feeble and insipid. With 
their long robes falling round their feet, and drooping 
many-colored wings, they seem not to fly or to walk, 
but to float along, " smooth sliding without step." 
Blessed, blessed creatures ! love us, only love us, — for 
we dare not task your soft, serene Beatitude by asking 
you to help us ! 

There is more sympathy with humanity in Francia's 
angels : they look as if they could weep, as well as 
love and sing. 

Most beautiful are the groups of adoring angels by 
Francesco Granacci,* so serenely tender, yet with a 
touch of grave earnestness which gives them a character 
apart : they have the air of guardian angels, who have 
discharged their trust, and to whom the Supreme utter- 
ance has voiced forth, " Servant of God, well done ! " 

The angels of Botticelli are often stiff, and those of 
Ghirlandajo sometimes fantastic ; but in both I have 
met with angelic countenances and forms which, for in- 
tense and happy expression, can never be forgotten. 
One has the feeling, however, that they used human 
models, — the portrait face looks through the angel face. 
This is still more apparent in Mantegna and Filippo 
Lippi. As we might have expected from the character 
of Fra Filippo, his angels want refinement : they have 
a boyish look, with their crisp curled hair, and their 
bold beauty ; yet some of them are magnificent for 
that sort of angel-beings supposed to have a volition of 
their own. Andrea del Sarto's angels have the same 
fault in a less degree : they have, if not a bold, yet a 
self-willed boyish expression. 

* In the Academy at Florence : they must have formed the §ide 
wings to an enthroned Madonna and Child. 



Perugino's angels convey the idea of an unalterable 
sweetness : those of his earlier time have much natural 
grace, those of his later time are mannered. In early 
Venetian Art the angels are charming : they are happy, 
affectionate beings, with a touch of that voluptuous 
sentiment afterwards the characteristic of the Venetian 

In the contemporary German school, angels are 
treated in a very extraordinary and original style. 
One cannot say that they are earthly, or common- 
place, still less are they beautiful or divine ; but they 
have great simplicity, earnestness, and energy of action. 
They appear to me conceived in the Old Testament 
spirit, with their grand, stifl', massive draperies, their 
jewelled and golden glories, their wings " eyed like the 
peacock, speckled like the pard," their intense expres- 
sion, and the sort of personal and passionate interest 
they throw into their ministry. This is the character 
of Albert Durer's angels especially; those of Martin 
Schoen and Lucas v. Lcyden are of a gentler spirit. 

Leonardo da Vinci's angels do not quite ])lease me, 
elegant, refined, and lovely as they are : — " methinks 
they smile too much." By his scholar Luini there are 
some angels in the gallery of the Brera, swinging cen- 
sers and playing on musical instruments, which, with 
the peculiar character of the Milanese school, combine 
all the grace of a purer, loftier nature. 

Correggio's angels are grand and lovely, but they 
are like children enlarged and sublimated, not like 
spirits taking the form of children : where they smile 
it is truly, as Annibal Caracci expresses it, " con una 
naturalezza e simplkita die innamoru e sforza a ridere con 
loro"; but the smile in many of Correggio's angel 
heads has something sublime and spiritual, as well as 
mnple and yiatttral. 

And Titian's angels impress me in a similar manner 

— I mean those in the glorious Assumption at Venice 

— with their childish forms and features, but with au 
expression caught from beholding the face of "our 


Father that is in heaven " : it is glorified infancy. I 
remember standing before this picture, contemplating 
those lovely spirits one after another, until a thrill 
came over me like that which I felt when Mendelssohn 
played the organ, and I became music while I listened. 
The face of one of those angels is to the face of a child 
just what that of the Virgin in the same picture is com- 
pared with the fairest of the daughters of earth : it is 
not here superiority of beauty, hut mind and music 
and love, kneaded, as it were, into form and color. 

I have thought it singular, and somewhat unaccount- 
able, that among the earliest examples of undraped boy- 
angcls are those of Fra Bartolomeo, — he who on one 
occasion, at the command of Savonarola, made a bon- 
fire of all the undressed figures he could lay his hands 

But Eaphael, excelling in all things, is here excel- 
lent above all : his angels combine, in a higher degree 
than any other, the various faculties and attributes in 
which the fancy loves to clothe these pure, immortal, 
beatified creatures. The angels of Giotto, of Benozzo, 
of Fiesole, are, if not female, feminine ; tlj#se of Filippo 
Lippi, and of Andrea Mantegna, masculine ; but you 
cannot say of those of Raphael that they are mascuhne 
or feminine. The idea of sex is wholly lost in the 
blending of power, intelligence, and grace. In his 
earlier pictures grace is the i)rcdominant characteristic, 
as in the dancing and singing angels in his Coronation 
of the Virgin.* In his later pictures the sentiment in 
his ministering angels is more spiritual, more dignified. 
As a perfect example of grand and poetical feeling, I 
may cite the angels as " Eegents of the Planets," in the 
Capella Chigiana.t The cupola represents in a circle 
the creation of the solar system, according to the theo- 
logical and astronomical (or rather astrological) notions 
which then prevailed, — a hundred years before " the 
Btarry Galileo and his woes." In the centre is the 

* Gallery of the Vatican. t S. Maria del Popolo, Borne. 


Creator ; around, in eight compartments, we have, 
first, the angel of the celestial sphere, who seems to be 
Hstening to the divine mandate, " Let there be lights 
in the firmament of heaven " ; then follow, in their 
order, the Sun, the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, 
Jupiter, and Saturn. The name of each planet is ex- 
pressed by its mythological representative ; the Sun 
bv Apollo, the Moon by Diana : and over each pre- 
sides a grand colossal winged spirit seated or reclining 
on a portion of the zodiac as on a throne. The union 
of the theological and the mythological attributes is in 
the classical taste of the time, and quite Miltonic* In 
Raphael's child-angels, the expression of power and 
intelligence, as well as innocence, is quite wonderful ; 
for instance, look at the two angel-boys in the Dresden 
Madonna di San Sisto, and the angels, or celestial 
genii, who bear along the Almighty when he appears 
to Noah.t No one has expressed like Raphael the 
action of flight, except perhaps Rembrandt. The 
angel who descends to crown Santa Felicita cleaves 
the air with the action of a swallow ; | and the angel 
in Rembrandt's Tobit soars like a lark with upward 
motion, spurning the earth. 

Michael Angelo i-arely gave wings to his angels ; I 
scarcely recollect an instance, except the angel in the 
Annunciation : and his exaggerated human forms, his 
colossal creatures, in which the idea of power is con- 
veyed through attitude and muscular action, are, to my 
taste, worse than unpleasiug. My admiration for this 
wonderful man is so profound that I can afford to say 
this. His angels are superhuman, but hardly angelic : 

* The moaaics in the dome of the Chigi chapel are so ill lighted 
that it is difficult to observe them in detail, but they have lately 
been rendered cheaply accessible in the fine set of engravings by 
Gruner, an artist who in our day has revived the pure and correct 
design and elegant execution of Marc Antonio. 

t As in the fresco in the Vatican. 

\ See the engraving under this title by Marc Antonio ; it is prop- 
erly St. Cecilia, and not St. Felicite. 


and while in Kaphael's angels we do not feel the want 
of whigs, we feel while looking at those of Michael 
Anirelo that not even the " sail-broad vans " with wliith 
Satan labored through the surging abyss of cliaos 
could suffice to lift those Titanic forms from earth, and 
sustain them in mid-air. The group of angels over 
the Last Judgment, flinging their mighty limbs about, 
and those that surround the descending tigure of Christ 
in the conversion of St. Paul, may be referred to 
here as characteristic examples. The angels, blowing 
their trumpets, puff and strain like so many troopers. 
Surely this is not angelic : there may be power, great 
imaginative and artistic power, exhibited in the con- 
ception of form, but in the beings themselves there is 
more of effort than of power : serenity, tranquillity, 
beatitude, etliereal purity, spiritual grace, are out of the 

The later followers of his school, in their angelic as 
in their human forms caricatured their great master, 
and became, to an offensive degree, forced, extravagant, 
and sensual. 

When we come to the revival of a better taste under 
the influence of the Caracci, we And the angels of that 
school as far removed from the early Christian types as 
were their apostles and martyrs. The}- have often great 
beauty, consummate elegance, but bear the same rela- 
tion to the religious and ethereal types of the early 
painters that the angels of Tasso bear to those of Dante. 
Turn, for instance, to the commencement of the Ge- 
rusalemme Liberata, where the angel is deputed to carry 
tO Godfrey the behest of the Supreme Being. The 
picture of the angel is distinctly and poetically brought 
before us ; he takes to himself a form between boyhood 
and youth ; his waving curls are crowned with beams 
of light ; he puts on a pair of wings of silver tipped 
with gold, with which he cleaves the air, the clouds, 
the skies ; he alights on Mount Lebanon, and poises 
himself on his balanced wings, — 


••' E si libro su 1' adeguate penne." 

This is exactly the angel which figures in the best 
pictures of the Caracci and Guido : he is supremely 
elegant, and nothing more. 

I must not here venture on minute criticism, as re- 
gards distinctive character in the crowds of painters 
which sprung out of the • eclectic school. It would 
carry us too far ; but one or two general remarks will 
lead the reader's fancy along the path I would wish 
him to pursue. I would say, therefore, that the angels 
of Ludovico have more of sentiment, those of Aunibal 
more of power, those of Guido more of grace : and of 
Guido it may be said that he excels them all in the 
expression of adoration and humility ; see, for instance, 
tlie adoring seraphs in Lord Ellesmere's " Immaculate 
Conception." The angels of IJomenichino, Guercino, 
and Albano are to me less pleasing. Domenichino's 
angels are merely human. I never saw an angel in 
one of Guercino's pictures that had not, with the merely 
human character, a touch of vulgarity. As for Albano, 
how are we to discriminate between his anh;els and his 
nymphs, Apollos, and Cupids ? But for the occasion 
and the appellation, it would be cpiite impossible to 
distinguish the Loves that sport round Venus and 
Adonis from the Cherubim, so called, that hover 
above a Nativity or a Ri])oso ; and the little angels, in 
his Crucifixion cry so like naughty little boys, that 
one longs to put them in a corner. This merely 
heathen grace and merely human sentiment is the 
general tendency of the whole school ; and no beauty 
of form or color can, to the feeling and religious mind, 
redeem such gross violations of propriety. As for 
Poussin, of whom I think with due reverence, his 
angels are often exquisitely beautiful and refined : they 
have a chastity and a moral grace which pleases at 
first view ; but here again the Scriptural type is neg- 
lected and heathenized in obedience to the fashion of 
the time. If we compare the Cupids in his liinaldo 
and Armida with the angels which minister to the 


Virgin and Cliild, or the Cherubim weeping in & 
Deposition with tlie Amorini who are lamenting over 
Adonis, in what respect do they ditfer 1 Tliey are 
evidently painted from the same models, — the beautiful 
children of Titian and Fiamingo. 

Rubens gives us strong, well-built youths, with re- 
dundant yellow hair; and* chubby, naked babies, as 
like flesh and blood, and as natural, as the life : and 
those of Vandyck are more elegant, without being more 
angelic. Murillo's child-angels are divine, through 
absolute beauty ; the expression of innocence and beati- 
tude was never more perfectly given ; but in grandeur 
and power they are inferior to Corrcggio, and, in all 
that should characterize a diviner nature, immeasurably 
below Raphael. 

Strange to say, the most poetical painter of angels 
in the seventeenth century is that ins])ired Dutciiman, 
Rembrandt ; not that his angels are Scriptural, still 
less classical ; and beautiful they are not, certainly, — 
often the reverse ; but if they have not the Miltonic 
dignity and grace, they are at least as unearthly and 
as poetical as any of the angelic phantasms in Dante, 

— unlmman, unembodied creatures, compounded of 
light and darkness, " the somewhat between a thought 
and a thing," haunting the memory like apparitions. 
For instance, look at his Jacob's Dream, at Duhvich ; 
or his etching of the Angels appearing to the Shepherds, 

— breaking through the night, scattering the gloom, 
making our eyes ache with excess of glory, — the 
Gloria in excelsis ringing through the fancy while we 
gaze ! 

I have before observed that angels are supposed to 
be masculine, with the feminine attributes of beauty 
and purity ; but in the seventeenth century the Floren- 
tine painter, Giovanni di S. Giovanni, scandalized his 
contemporaries by introducing into a glory round the 
Virgin female angels (angelesse). Rubens has more 
than once committed the same fault against ecclesi- 


astical canons and decorum ; for instance, in his Ma- 
donna " aux Anges" in the Louvre. Such aberrations 
of fancy are mere caprices of the painter, improprieties 
inadmissible in high art. 

Of the sprawling, fiuttering, half-naked angels of the 
Pietro da Cortona and Bernini school, and the feeble 
mannerists of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, 
what sliall be said ? that they are worthy to illustrate 
Moore's Loves of the Angels 1 " non ragioniam di lor" ; 
no, nor even look at them ! I have seen angels of the 
later Italian and Spanish painters more like opera- 
dancers, with artificial wings and gauze draperies, 
dressed to figure in a ballgt, than anything else I could 
compare them to. 

The most original, and, in truth, the only new and 
original version of the Scripture idea of angels which 
I have met with, is that of William Blake, a poet 
painter, somewhat mad as we are told, if indeed his 
madness were not rather "the telescope of truth," a sort 
of poetical clairvoijance, bringing the unearthly nearer 
to him than to others. His adoring angels float rather 
than fly, and, with their half-liquid draperies, seem about 
to dissolve into light and love : and his rejoicing an- 
gels — behold them — sending up their voices with the 
morning stars, that "singing, in their glory move!" 

As regards the treatment of angels in the more re- 
cent productions of art, the painters and sculptors have 
generally adhered to received and known types in form 
and in sentiment. The angels of the old Italians, 
Giotto and Frate Angelico, have been very well imi- 
tated by Steinle and otiiers of the German school : the 
Raffaelesque feeling has been in general aimed at by 
the French and English painters. Tenerani had the 
old mosaics in his mind when he conceived that mag- 
nificent colossal Angel of the Resurrection seated on a 
tomb, and waiting for the signal to sound his trumpet, 
which I saw in his atelier, prepared I believe for the 
monument of the Duchess Lanti.* 

* It i3 now in the Lanti chapel in the church of the Lateran. 


I pause here, for I have dwelt upon these celestial 
Hierarchies, winged Splendors, Princedoms, Virtues, 
Powers, till my fancy is becoming somewhat mazed 
and dazzled by the contemplation. I must leave the 
reader to go into a picture-gallery, or look, over a port- 
folio of engravings, and so pursue the theme, whither- 
soever it may lead him, and it may lead him, in Ham- 
let's words, " to thoughts beyond the reaches of his 
soul ! " * 

* Mr. Ruskin remarks very truly, that in early Christian art 
there is " a certain confidence, in the way in which angels trust 
to their wings, very characteristic of a period of bold and simple 
conception. Modern science has taught us that a wing cannot be 
anatomically joined to a shoulder ; and in proportion as painters 
approach more and more to the scientific, as distinguished from 
the contemplative state of mind, they put the wings of their 
angels on more timidly, and dwell with greater emphasis on the 
human form, with less upon the wings, until these last become a 
species of decorative appendage, a mere sign of an angel. But 
in Giotto's time an angel was a complete creature, as much be- 
lieved in as a bird, and the way in which it would or might cast 
itself into the air, and lean hither and thither on its plumes, was 
as naturally apprehended as the manner of flight of a chough or a 
starling. Hence Dante's simple and most exquisite synonyme for 
angel, ' Bird of God ' ; and hence also a variety and picturesque- 
ness in the expression of the movements of the heavenly hierar- 
chies by the earlier painters, ill replaced by the powers of fore- 
shortening and throwing naked limbs into fantastic positions, 
which appear in the cherubic groups of later times." 


" The Seven 
Who in Grod's presence, nearest to his throne, 
Stand ready at command." 


AVING treated of the celestial Hierarchy 
in general, we have now to consider those 
angels who in artistic representations have 
assumed an individual form and character. 
These belong to the order of Archangels, placed by 
Dionysius in the third Hierarchy : they take rank 
between the Princedoms and the Angels, and partake 
of the nature of both, being, like the Princedoms, 
Powers ; and, like the Angels, Ministers and Messen- 

Frequent allusion is made in Scripture to the Seven 
Angels who stand in the presence of God. (Rev. viii. 
2, XV. 1, xvi. 1, &c. ; Tobit xxii. 1.5.) This was in 
accordance with the popular creed of the Jews, who 
not only acknowledged the supremacy of the Seven 
Spirits, but assigned to them distinct vocations and 
distinct appellations, each terminating with the syllable 
El, which signifies God. Thus we have, — , 

I. Michael (i. e. who is like unto God), captain- 
general of the host of heaven, and protector of the 
Hebrew nation. 

II. Gabriel (i. e. God is my strength), guardian 
of the celestial treasury, and preceptor of the patriarch 


in. Raphael (i. e. the medicine of God), the con- 
ductor of Tobit ; thence the chief fjuardian angel. 

IV. Uriel (i. e. the light of God), who taught 
Esdras. He was also regent of the sun. 

V. Chamuel (i. e. one who sees God ?), who wres- 
tled with Jacob, and who appeared to Christ at Geth- 
semane. (But, according to other authorities, this was 
the angel Gabriel.) 

VI. JoPHiEL (i. e. the beauty of God), who was 
the preceptor of the sons cf Noah, and is the protector 
of all those who, with an humble heart, seek after 
truth, and the enemy of those who pursue vain knowl- 
edge. Thus Jopliiel was naturally considered as the 
guardian of the tree of knoivledge, and the same who 
drove Adam and Eve from Paradise. 

VII. Zadkiel (i. e. the righteousness of God), who 
stayed the hand of Abraham when about to sacrifice 
his son. (But, accoi-ding to other authorities, this was 
the archangel jMicbael.) 

The Christian CluuTh docs not acknowledge these 
Seven Angels liy name ; neither in the East, where 
the worship of angels took deep root, nor yet in the 
"West, where it has been tacitly accepted. Nor have I 
met with them as a series, hij name, in any ecclesiastical 
work of art, though I have seen a set of old anony- 
mous prints in which they appear with distinct names 
and attributes : Michael bears the sword and scales ; 
Gabriel, the lily ; Kaphael, the pilgrim's staif and 
gourd full of water, as a traveller. Uriel lias a roll 
and a book : he is the interpreter of judgments and 
prophecies, and for this purpose was sent to Esdras : 
" The angel that was sent unto me, whose name was 
Uriel, gave me an answer." (Esdras ii. 4.) And in 
Milton, — 

" Criel, for thou of those Seven Spirits that stand 
In sight of Goil's hish throne, gloriously bright, 
The first art wont his great authentic will 
Interpreter through highest heaven to bring." 

According to an early Christian tradition, it was this 


angel, and not Christ in person, who accompanied the 
two disciples to Emmaus. Chamuel is represented 
with a cup and a staff; Jophiel witli a flaming sword. 
Zadiviel bears the sacrificial knife which he took from 
the hand of Abraham. 

But the Seven Angels, witliout being distinguished 
by name, are occasionally introduced into woi'ks of art. 
For example, over the arch of the choir in San Mi- 
chele, at Ravenna (a. d. 545), on each side of the 
throned Saviour are the Seven Angels blowing trum- 
pets like cow's horns : " And I saw the Seven An- 
gels which stand before God, and to them were given 
seven trumpets." (Rev. viii. 2, 6.) In representations 
of the Crucifixion and in the Pieta, the Seven Angels 
are often seen in attendance, bearing the instruments 
of tlie Passion. Michael bears the cross, for he is 
" the Bannerer of heaven " ; but I do not feel certain 
of the particular avocations of the others. 

In tlie Last Judgment of Orcagna, in the Campo 
Santo at Pisa, the Seven Angels are active and im- 
portant personages. The angel wiio stands in the 
centre of the picture, below the throne of Christ, ex- 
tends a scroll in each hand ; on that in the right hand 
is inscribed " Come, ye blessed of my Father," and on 
that in the left hand, " Depart from me, ye accursed": 
him I suppose to be Michael, the- angel of judgment. 
At his feet crouches an angel who seems to shrink 
from the tremendous spectacle, and hides his face : him 
I suppose to be Raphael, the guardian angel of hu- 
manity. The attitude has always been admired, —■ 
cowering with horror, yet sublime. Beneath are other 
five angels, who are engaged in separating the just 
from the wicked, encouraging and sustaining the for- 
mer, and driving the latter towards the demons who 
are ready to snatch them into flames. These Seven 
Angels have the garb of princes and warriors, with 
breastplates of gold, jewelled sword-belts and tiaras, 
ri'^h mantles ; while the other angels who figure in the 
same scene are plumed and bird-like, and hover above 
oearing the instruments of the Passion. 


Again we may see the Seven Angels in quite an- 
other character, attending on St. Thomas Aquinas, in 
a picture by Taddeo Gaddi.* Here, instead of the 
instruments of the Passion, they bear tlic allegorical 
attributes of those virtues for which that famous saint 
and doctor is to be reverenced : one bears an olive- 
branch, i. e. Peace ; the second, a book, i. e. Knowl- 
edge; the third, a crown and sceptre, i. e. Power; the 
fourth, a church, i. e. Religion ; the fifth, a cross and 
shield, i. c. Faith ; the sixth, flames of fire in each 
hand, i. e. Piety and Charity ; the seventh, a lily, i. e. 

In general it may be presumed when seven angels 
figure together, or are distinguished from among a host 
of angels by dress, stature, or other attributes, that these 
represent " the Seven Holy Angels who stand in the 
presence of God." Four only of these Seven Angels 
are individualized by name, Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, 
and Uriel. According to the Jewish tradition, these 
four sustain the throne of the Almighty : they have the 
Greek epithet arch, or ciiief, assigned to them, from the 
two texts of Scripture in which that title is used 
(1 Thess. iv. 16; Judeix.); but only tlie three first, 
who in Scripture have a distinct personality, are rever- 
enced in the Catholic Church as saints ; and their 
gracious beauty, and tlieir divine prowess, and their 
high behests to mortal man, have funiished some of 
the most important and most poetical subjects which 
appear in Christian Art. 

The earliest instance I have met of the Archangels in- 
troduced by name into a work of art is in the old church 
of San Michelc at Ravenna (a. d. 545). Tlie mosaic 
in the apse exhibits Christ in the centre, bearing in one 
hand the cross as a trojihy or sceptre, and in the other 
an open book on which are the words " Qui vidct me 
videt et Palrem meum." On each side stand Michael 
and Gabriel, with vast wings and long sceptres ; their 
names are inscribed above, but without the Sanctus and 

* A D. 1352, Florence, S. Maria Novella 


rithout the Glory. It appears, therefore, that at this 
time, the middle of the sixth century, the title of Saint, 
though in use, had not been given to the Archangels. 

When, in the ancient churches, the figure of Christ 
or of the Lamb appears in a circle or glory in the cen- 
tre of the roof; and around, or at the four corners, 
four angels who sustain the circle with outspread arms, 
or stand as watchers, with sceptres or lances in their 
hands, these I presume to be the four Archangels "who 
sustain the throne of God." Examples may be seen 
in San Vitalc at Ravenna ; in the chapel of San Zeno, 
in Santa Prassede at Rome ; and on the roof of the 
choir of San Francesco d'Assisi. 

So the four Archangels, stately colossal figures, winged 
and armed and sceptred, stand over the arch of the 
choir in the Cathedral of Monreale, at Palermo.* 

So the four angels stand at the four corners of the 
earth and hold the winds, heads with puffed cheeks and 
dishevelled hair.t (Rev. vii. 1.) 

But I have never seen Uriel represented by name, 
or alone, in any sacred edifice. In the picture of Uriel 
painted by Allston,t he is the " Regent of the Sun," 
as described by Milton ; not a sacred or Scriptural 
personage. On a shrine of carved ivory § I have seen 
the four Archangels as keeping guard, two at each 
end ; the three first are named as usual, St. Michael, 
St. Gabriel, St. Raphael ; the fourth is styled St. Cher- 
uhin ; and I have seen the same name inscribed over 
the head of the angel who expels Adam and Eve from 
Paradise. Tliere is no authority for such an appel- 
lation applied indivi'dually ; but I find, in a famous 
legend of the middle ages, " La Penitence d'Adam," 
that the angel who guards the gates of Paradise is thus 
designated : " Lorsque I'Ange Cherubin vit arriver 

* Greek mosaic, A. D. 1174. 

T MS. of the Book of Revelation, fourteenth century. Trinity 
College, Dublin. 
I Coll. of the Duke of Sutherland. 
§ Hotel de Cluny, 399. 


Seth aux portes de Paradis," &c. The four Arch- 
angels, however, seldom occur together, except in 
architectural decoration. On the other hand, devo- 
tional pictures of the three Archangels named in the 
canonical Scriptures are of frequent occurrence. They 
are often grouped together as patron saints or protect- 
ing spirits ; or they stand round the throne of Christ, 
or below the glorified Virgin and Child, in an attitude 
of adoration. According to the Greek formula, the 
three in combination represent the triple power, mili- 
tary, civil, and religious, of the celestial hierarchy : 
St. Michael being habited as a warrior, Gabriel as a 
prince, and Raphael as a priest. In a Greek picture 
the three Archangels sustain in a kind of throne the 
figure of the youthful Christ, here winged, as being 
Himself the supreme Angel (ayyeXos), and wirii both 
hands blessing the universe. Tlie Archangel Raphael 
has here the place of dignity as representing the Priest- 
hood ; but in Western art Michael takes precedence of 
the two others, and is usually placed in the centre 
as Prince or Chief: with him, then, as considered in- 
dividually, we begin. 

St, Michael. 

{Lat. Sanctus Michael Angelas. Ital. San Michele, Sammichele. 
Ft. Monseigneur Saint Michel. Sept. 29.) 

" Michael, the Great Prince that standeth for the children of thy 
people." — Dan. xii. 1. 

It is difficult to clothe in adequate language the 
divine attributes with which painting and poetry have 
invested this illustrious archangel. Jews and Chris- 
tians are agreed in giving him the pre-eminence over 
all created spirits. All the might, the majesty, the 
radiance of Thrones, Dominations, Princedoms, Vir- 
tues, Powers, are centred in him. In him God put 
forth His strength when he exalted him chief over 


the celestial host, when angels warred with angels in 
heaven ; and in him God showed forth his glory 
when he made him conqueror over the power of sin, 
and " over the great dragon that deceived the world." 

To the origin of the worship paid to this great arch- 
angel I dare not do more than allude, lest I stray wide 
from my subject, and lose myself, and my readers too, 
in labyrinths of Orientalism. But, in considering the 
artistic representations, it is interesting to call to mind 
that the gloriiication of St. Michael may be traced back 
to that primitive Eastern dogma, the perpetual antago- 
nism between the Spirit of Good and the Spirit of Evil, 
mixed up with the Chaldaic belief in angels, and their 
influence over the destinies of man. It was subsequent 
to the Captivity that the active Spirit of Good, under 
the name of Michael, came to be regarded as the espe- 
cial protector of the Hebrew nation : the veneration 
paid to him by the Jews was adopted, or rather re- 
tained, by the Oriental Christians, and, though sup- 
pressed for a time, was revived and spread over the 
"West, where we find it popular, and almost universal, 
from the eighth century. 

The legends which have grown out of a few mystical 
texts of Scripture, amplified by the fanciful disquisitions 
of the theological writers, place St. Michael before us 
in three great characters : 1. As captain of the heav- 
enly host, and conqueror of the powers of hell. 2. As 
lord of souls, conductor and guardian of the spirits of 
the dead. 3. As patron saint and prince of the Church 

When Lucifer, possessed by the spirit of pride and 
ingratitude, refused to fall down and worship the Son 
of Man, Michael was deputed to punish his insolence, 
and to cast him out from heaven. Then Michael 
chained the revolted angels in middle air, where they 
are to remain till the day of judgment, being in the 
mean time perpetually tortured by hate, envy, and de- 


spair : for they behold man, -n-hom they had disdained, 
exalted as their superior ; above them they see the 
heaven they have farfeited ; and beneath them the re- 
deemed souls continually rising from earth, and ascend- 
ing to the presence of God, whence they are shut out 

" Now," says the old Legend,* " if it be asked 
wherefore the books of Moses, in revealing the dis- 
obedience and the fall of man, are silent as to the 
revolt and fall of the angels, the reason is plain ; and, 
in this God acted according to his wisdom. For, let 
us suppose that a certain powerful lord hath two vas- 
sals, both guilty of the crime of treason, and one of 
these is a nobleman of pure and lofty lineage, and the 
other a base-born churl : — what doth this lord ? He 
hangs up the churl in the market-place as a warning 
and example to others ; — but, for the nobleman, fear- 
ing the scandal that may arise among the people, and 
perhaps also some insult to the officers of the law, the 
judge causes him to be tried secretly, and shuts him up 
in a dungeon ; and when judgment is pronounced 
against him, he sends to his prison, and puts him 
privily to death ; and when one asketh after him, the 
answer is only, ' He is dead ' : — and nothing more. 
Thus did God in respect to the rebel angels of old ; 
and their fate was not revealed until the redemption of 
man was accomplished." 

This passage from the old Italian legend is so 
curiously characteristic of the feudal spirit of Chris- 
tianity in the middle ages, that I have ventured to in- 
sert it verbatim. If religion did, in some degree, 
modify the institutions of chivalry, in a much greater 
degree did the ruling prejudices of a barbarian age 
modify the popular ideas of religion. Here, notwith- 
standing the primary doctrine of Christ, — the equality 
of all men before God, — we have the distinction between 
noble and churl carried into the very councils of 

* V. II perfetto Legendario. 1659. 


But, to return to St. Michael : on whom, as the 
leader of his triumphant hosts, God bestowed many 
and great privilej^es. To him it was given 

" To bid sound th' archangel trumpet," 

and exalt the banner of the Cross in the day of judg- 
ment ; and to him likewise was assigned the reception 
of the immortal spirits when released by death. It was 
his task to weigh them in a balance (Dan. v. 27 ; Ps. 
Ixii. 9) : those whose good works exceeded their de- 
merits, he presented before the throne of God ; but 
those who were found wanting he gave up to be tor- 
tured in purgatory, until their souls, from being " as 
crimson, should become as white as snow." Therefore, 
in the hour of death, he is to be invoked by the faithful, 
saying, " Michael, militcB codestis signifer, in adjutorium 
nostrum veni, princeps et. propu/jnator ! " 

Lastly, when it pleased the Almighty to select from 
among the nations of the earth one people to become 
peculiai-ly his own. He appointed St. Michael to be 
president and leader over that chosen people.* " At 
that time shall Micliael stand up, the great prince 
which standcth for the children of thy people " (Dan. 
X. 13, xii. 1 ) : and when the power of the Synagogue 
was supposed to cease, and to be replaced by the power 
of the Chui'di, so that the Christians became the people 
of God, then Michael, who had been the great prince 
of the Hebrew people, became the prince and leader of 
the Church militant in Christendom, and the guardian 
of redeemed souls, against his old adversary the Prince 
of Hell. (Rev. xii. 6, 7.) 

* The Gnostics taught that the universe was created by the 
Seven Great Angels, who ranked next to the Eons, or direct 
emanations from God : " And when a distribution was afterwards 
made of things, the chief of the creating angels had the People of 
the Jews particularly to his share ; a doctrine which in the main 
was received by many ancients." (See Lardner's History of the 
Early Heresies.) I have alluded to the angel pictured as the agent 
in creation, but the Seven creating Angels I have not met with in 
art. This was one of the Gnostic fancies condemned by the early 


The worship paid to St. Michael, and which oripi- 
natcd in the for East, is supposed to liavc licen adopted 
by the Oriental Christians in cons^iuence of a fomous 
apparition of the Archangel at Colosste, in Phrygia, 
which caused him to be held in especial honor by the 
people of that city, and perhaps occasioned the par- 
ticular warning of St. Paul addressed to the Colossians. 
But although the worship of angels was considered 
among the heresies of the early Church, we find Con- 
stantine no sooner master of the empire, and a bap- 
tized Christian, than he dedicates a church to the 
Archangel Michael (by his Greek name Michaelion), 
and this church, one of the most magnificent in Con- 
stantinople, became renowned for its miracles, and the 
parent and model of hundreds more throughout the 

In the West, the honors paid to St. Michael are of 
later date : that a church dedicated to him must have 
existed in Rome long before the year 500 seems clear, 
because at that time it is mentioned as having fallen 
into ruin. But the West had its angelic apparitions 
as well as the East, and St. Michael owes his wide- 
spread popularity in the middle ages to three famous 
visions which are thus recorded. 

In the fifth centur}-, in the city of Siponte, in Apu- 
lia (now ISIanfredonia), dwelt a man named Galgano 
or Garganus, very rich in cattle, sheep, and beasts ; 
and as they pastured on the sides of the mountain, it 
happened that a bull strayed and came not home : then 
the rich man took a multitude of servants and sought 
the bull, and found him at the entrance of a cave on 
the very summit of the mountain, and, being wrath 
with the bull, the master ordered him to be slain ; but 
when the arrow was sent from the bow it returned to 
the bosom of him who sent it, and he fell dead on 
the ground : then the master and his servants were 
troubled, and they sent to inquire of the bishop what 
should be done. The bishop, having fasted and prayed 
three days, beheld in a vision the glorious Archangel 


Michael, who descended on the mountain, and told 
him that the servant had been slain because he had 
violated a spot peculiarly sacred to him, and he com- 
manded that a church should be erected and sanctified 
there to his honor. And when they entered the cavern 
they found there tlu-ee altars already erected, one of 
them covered with a rich embroidered altar-cloth of 
crimson and gold, and a stream of limpid water 
springing from the roclc, which healed all diseases. 
So the church was built, and the fame of the vision 
of Monte Galgano, though for some time confined to 
the south of Italy, spread throughout Europe, and 
many pilgrimages were made to the spot on which the 
angelic footsteps had alighted. 

The second vision is much more imposing. When 
Rome was nearly depopulated by a pestilence in the 
sixth century, St. Gregory, afterwards Pope, advised 
that a procession should be made through the streets 
of the city, singing the service since called the Great 
Litanies. He placed himself at the head of the faith- 
ful, and during three days they perambulated the city ; 
and on the third day, when they had arrived opposite 
to the mole of Hadrian, Gregory beheld the Archangel 
Michael alight on the summit of that monument, and 
sheathe his sword bedropped with blood. Then Greg- 
ory knew that the plague was stayed, and a church 
was there dedicated to the honor of the Archangel : 
and the Tomb of Hadrian has since been called the 
Castle of Sant' Angelo to this day. 

This, of all the recorded apparitions of St. Michael, 
is the only one which can be called poetical : it is 
evidently borrowed from the vision of the destroying 
angel in Scripture. As early as the ninth century, a 
church or chapel dedicated to St. Michael was erected 
on the summit of the huge monument, which at that 
time must have preserved much of its antique magnifi- 
cence. The church was entitled Ecclesia Sancti Atigeli 
usque ad Coelos. The bronze statue, which in memory 
of this miracle now surmounts the Castle of St. An- 


gelo, was placed there in recent times by Benedict 
XIV., and is the work of a Flemish sculptor, Ver- 
schaftelt. I suppose no one ever looked at this statue 
criticall}', — at least, for myself, I never could : nor 
can I remember now, whether, as a work of art, it is 
above or below criticism ; perhaps both. With its vast 
winirs, poised in air, as seen against the deep blue skies 
of Rome, or lighted up by the golden sunset, to me it 
was ever like what it was intended to represent, — like 
a vision. 

A third apparition was that accorded to Aubert, 
Bishop of Avranches (a. d. 706). This holy man 
seems to have been desirous to attract to his own 
diocese a portion of that sanctity (and perliaps other 
advantages) wiiich Monte Galgano derived from the 
worship of St. Michael. In the Gulf of Avranches, 
in Normandy, stands a lofty isolated rock, inaccessil)Ie 
from the land at high water, and for ages past cele- 
brated as one of the strongest fortresses and state 
prisons in France. In the reign of Childebert II., 
St. Aubert, Bishop of Avranches, had a vision, in 
which the Archangel Michael commanded him to re- 
pair to this rock, then the terror of mariners, and erect 
a church to his honor on the highest point, where a 
bull would be found concealed, and it was to cover as 
much space as the bull had trampled with his hoofs : 
he also discovered to the bishop a wellspring of pure 
\vatcr, which had before been unknown. As the bishop 
treated this command as a dream, the Archangel ap- 
peared to him a second and a third time ; and at 
length, to impress it on his waking memory, he touched 
his head with his thumb, and made a mark or hole in 
his skull, which he carried to the grave. This time 
the bishop obeyed, and a small church was built on 
the sjiot indicated ; afterwards replaced by the mag- 
nificent Abbey Church, which was begun by Richard, 
Duke of Normandy, in 966, and finished by William 
the Conqueror. The poverty of invention shown in 
this legend, which is little more than a repetition of 


that of Monte Galgano, is very disappointinfr to the 
fancy, considering the celebrity of Mont-Saint-^Michel 
as a place of pilgrimage, and as one of the most pic- 
turesque objects in European scenery, with its massive 
towers, which have braved the tempests of a tliousand 
years, rising from the summit of -the peak, and the sea 
weltering round its base. It failed not, however, in 
the effect anticipated. The worship of St. Michael 
became popular in France from the ninth century; the 
Archangel was selected as patron saint of France, and 
of the military order instituted in his honor by Louis 
XI. in 1469. The worship paid to St. Michael as 
patron saint of Normandy naturally extended itself to 
England after the Norman conquest, and churches 
dedicated to this archangel abound in all the towns 
and cities along the southern and eastern shores of 
our island ; we also have a Mount St. Michael oa 
the coast of Cornwall, in situation and in name re- 
sembling that on the coast of France. At this day 
there are few cities in Christendom which do not 
contain a church or churches dedicated to St. Michael, 
some of them of great antiquity. 

I must not omit that St. Michael is considered as 
the angel of good counsel : that " Le ATai office de 
Monseigneur Saint Michel est de faire grandes revela- 
tions aux hommes en bas, en leur donnant moult saints 
conseils," and in particular, " sur le bon nourissement 
que le pere et la mere donnent a leurs enfims."* It 
is to be regretted that " Monseigneur Saint Michel " 
sliould be found rather remiss in this part of his an- 
gelic functions. 

We shall now see how far these various traditions 
and popular notions concerning St. Michael have been 
carried out in Art. 

In all representations of St. Michael, the leading 
idea, well or ill expressed, is the same. He is young 
and beautiful, but " severe in youtliful beauty," as one 

* Le Livre des Angeles de Dieu, MS. Paris Bibl. Nat. 


who carries on a perpetual contest with the powers of 
evil. In the earlier works of art he is robed in white, 
with ample niany-colored wings, and bears merely the 
sceptre or the lance surmounted by a cross, as one who 
conquered by spiritual miglit alone. But in the later 
representations, those-colored by the spirit of chivalry, 
he is the angelic Paladin, armed in a dazzling coat of 
mail, with sword and spear and shield. He has a 
lofty open brow, long fair hair floating on his shoul- 
ders, sometimes bound by a jewelled tiara ; sometimes, 
but not often, shaded by a helmet. From his shoul- 
ders spring two resplendent wings. Thus we see him 
standing by the throne of the Madonna, or worshijiping 
at the feet of the Divine Infant ; an exquisite allegory 
of spiritual and intellectual power protecting purity 
and adoring innocence. 

There is a most beautiful little figure by Angelico, 
of St. Michael standing in his character of archangel 
and patron of the Church Militant, " as the winged 
saint " ; no demon, no attribute cxcc])t the lance and 
shield. The attitude is tranquilly elegant, and the 
armor is of a dark crimson and gold, the wings are 
of rainbow tints, vivid and delicate ; a flame of lam- 
bent fire rests on the l)row. 

But the single devotional figures of St. Michael 
usually represent him as combining the two great 
characters of captain of the heavenly host and con- 
queror of the powers of hell. He stands armed, set- 
ting his foot on Lucifer, either in the half-human or 
the dragon form, and is about to transfix liim with his 
lance, or to chain him down in the infernal abyss. 
Such, however varied in the attitude, ex]iression, and 
accessories, is the most frequent and popular represen- 
tation of St. Michael, when placed betbre us, as the 
universally received emblem of the final .victory of 
good over evil. 

In those churches of Christendom which have not 
been defaced by a blind destructive zeal, this image 
meets us at every turn : it salutes us in the porch as 


wc enter, or it shines upon us in gorj^eous colors ft-om 
the winJow, or it is wreathed into the capitals of col- 
umns, or it stands in its holy heroic beauty over the 
altar. It is so common and so in harmony with our 
inmost being, that we rather feel its presence than ob- 
serve it. It is the visible, palpable reflection of that 
great truth stamped into our very souls, and shadowed 
forth in every form of ancient belief, — tlie hnal tri- 
umph of the spiritual over the animal and eartlily part 
of our nature. This is the secret of its perpetual repe- 
tition, and this the secret of the untired complacency 
with which we regard it ; for even in the most ineffi- 
cient attempts at expression, we have always the lead- 
ing 7?io;('/' distinct and true, the winged virtue is always 
victorious above, and tlie bestial vice is always pros- 
trate below : and if to this primal moral significance be 
added all the ciiarm of poetry, grace, animated move- 
ment, which human genius has lavished on this ever- 
blessed, ever-welcome symliol, then, as we look up at 
it, we are " not only touched, but wakened and in- 
spired," and the whole delighted imagination glows 
with faith and hope, and grateful, triumphant sympa- 
thy, — so at least I have felt, and I must believe that 
others have felt it too. 

la the earliest representations of this subject, we see 
the simplest form of the allegory, literally rendering 
the words of Scripture, " The dragon shalt thou tram- 
ple under foot." (Ps. xci. 13.) Here there is no risk 
of a divided interest or a misdirected sympathy. The 
demon, grovelling under the feet of the victorious 
spirit, is not the star-bright apostate wlio drew after 
him the third part of lieaven ; it is the bestial malig- 
nant reptile : — not the emblem of resistance, but the 
emblem of sin ; not of the sin that aspires, which, in 
fact, is a contradiction in terms ; — no sin aspires ; — 
but of the sin which degrades and brutifies, as all sin 
does. In the later representations, where the demon 
takes the half-human shape, however hideous and de- 
formed, tlie allegory may so be brought nearer to us, 


and rendered more terrible even by a horrid sympathy 
with that human face, grinning in despite and agony ; 
but much of the beauty of the Scriptural metaphor is 

The representations of St. Michael and the dragon 
are so multifarious that I can only select a few among 
them as examples of the different styles of treatment. 

The symbol, as such, is supposed to have originated 
with the Gnostics and Arians, and the earliest exam- 
ples are to be found in the ancient churches on the 
western coast of Italy, and the old Lombard churches. 
I have never seen it in the old jMosaics of the sixth 
century, but in the contemporary sculpture frequently. 
It would be difficult to point to the most ancient ex- 
ample, such is the confusion of dates as regards dedi- 
cations, restorations, alterations ; but I remember a 
carving in white marble on the porch of the Cathedral 
of Cortona (about the seventh century), which may be 
regarded as an examjile of this primitive style of treat- 

Another instance will be remembered by the traveller 
in Italy, the strange antique bas-relief on the facade 
of that extraordinary old church the San Michele at 
Pavia ; not the figure in the porch, which is modern, 
but that which is above. In tlie Menologium Grecum 
is a St. Michael standing with a long sceptre, a majestic 
colossal figure, while kneeling angels adore him, and 
the demons crouch under his feet.t 

* Dr. Arnold has some characteristic remarks on the half- 
human effigies of Satan ; he objects to the Miltonic representation : 
" By giving a human likeness, and representing him as a bad 
man, you necessarily get some image of what is good, as well as 

of what is bad, for no man is entirely evil The hoofs, the 

horns, the tail, were all useful in this way, as giving you an image 
of something altogether disgusting ; and so Mephistophiles, and 
the utterly contemptible and hateful character of the Little Master 
in Sintram, are far more true than the Paradise Lost.'" — Life, 
rol. ii. 

\ Vatican MSS. No. 1613, A. D. 989. 



By Martin Schoen : St. Michael, attired in a long 
loose robe and floating mantle, tramples ou the demon ; 
he has thrown down the shield, and with his lance in 
both hands, but without effort, and even with a calm, 
angelic dignity, prepares to transfix his adversary. 
The figure is singularly elegant. The demon has not 
here the usual form of a dragon, but is a horrible non- 
descript reptile, with multitudinous flexile claws, like 
those of a crab, stretched out to seize and entangle the 
unwary; — for an emblematical figure, very significant. 
In an old fresco by Guariente di Padova * the angel 
is draped as in Martin Schoen's figure, but the attitude 
is far less elegant. 

Sometimes the dragon has a small head at the end 
of his tail, instead of the forked sting. I recollect an 
instance of St. Michael transfixing the large head, while 
a smaller angel, also armed, transfixes the other head.t 
This is an attempt to render literally the description in 
the Apocalypse : " For their power is in their mouth 
and in their tails : for their tails were like unto serpents, 
and had heads, and with them they do hurt." (Rev. ix. 
19.) In a most elegant figure of St. Michael, from the 
choir of the San Giovanni, at Malta, I found the demon 
thus charactei'ized, with a tail ending in the serpent 

In an old Siena picture | St. Michael is seated on a 
throne : in one hand a sword, in the other the orb of 
sovereignty ; under his feet lies the dragon mangled 
and bleeding : a bad picture, but curious for the sin- 
gular treatment. 

In the sixteenth century these figures of St. Michael 
become less ideal and angelic, and more and more 
chivalrous and picturesque. In a beautiful altar-piece 
by Andrea del Sarto, now in the Florence Academy, 
there is a fine martial figure of the Archangel, which, 
but for the wings, might be mistaken for a St. George ; 

* A. D. 1365. Eremitani. Padua. 

t Greek Apocalypse MS. Paris Bibl. Nat. 

t Siena Acad. 


and in tlie predella underneath, on a small scale, he 
is conqueror of tlie demon. The peculiarity here is, 
that tlie demon, though vanquished, makes a vain 
struggle, and has seized hold of the belt of the angel, 
who, with uplifted sword, and an action of infinite 
grace and dignity, looks superior down, as one assured 
of victory. 

Raphael has given us three figures of St. Michael, 
«ill different, and one of them taking rank with his 

The first is an early production, painted when he 
was a youth of nineteen or twenty, and now in the 
Louvre. St. Michael, armed with a shield on which is 
a red cross, his sword raised to strike, stands with one 
foot on a monster ; other horrible little monsters, like 
figures in a dream, are around him : in the background 
are seen the hypocrites and thieves as described by 
Dante ; the first, in melancholy procession, weighed 
down with leaden cowls ; the others, tormented by 
snakes : and, in the distance, the flaming, dolorous 
city. St. Michael is here the vanquisher of the Vices. 
It is a curious and fantastic, rather than poetical, little 

The second jjicture, also in the Louvre, was painted 
by Raphael, in the maturity of his talent, for Francia 
I. : the king had left to him the choice of the subject, 
and he selected St. Michael, the military patron of 
France, and of that knightly Order of which the king 
was grand master. 

St. Michael — not standing, but hovering on his 
poised wings, and grasping his lance in both hands — 
sets one foot lightly on the shoulder of the demon, who, 
prostrate, writhes up, as it were, and tries to lift his 
head and turn it on his conqueror with one last gaze 
of malignant rage and desj)air. The archangel looks 
down upon him with a brow calm and serious ; in his 
beautiful face is neither vengeance nor disdain, — in his 
attitude, no effort; his form, a model of youthful grace 
and majesty, is clothed in a brilliant panoply of gold 


and silver ; an azure scarf floats on his shoulders ; his 
wide-spread wings are of purple, blue, and gold ; his 
light hair is raised, and tloats outward on each side of 
his head, as if from the swiftness of his downward 
motion. The earth emits flames, and seems opening 
to swallow up the adversary. The form of the demon 
is human, but vulgar in its proportions, and of a 
swartliy red, as if fire-scathed ; he has the horns and 
the serpent-tail ; but, from the attitude into which he 
is thrown, the monstrous form is so fore-shortened that 
it does not disgust, and the majestic figure of the arch- 
angel fills up nearly the whole space — fills the eye — 
fills the soul — with its victorious beauty. 

That ililton had seen this picture, and that when 
his sight was quenched the " winged saint " revisited 
him in his darkness, who can doubt 1 — 

" Over his lucid arms 
A military vest of purple flowed 
Livelier than Meliboean, or the grain 
Of Sarra worn by kings and heroes old 
In time of truce. 

By his side, 
As in a glittering zodiac, hung the sword, 
Satan's dire dread, and in his hand the spear." 

A third St. Michael, designed by Raphael, exists 
only as an engraving.* The angel here wears a hel- 
met, and is classically draped ; he stands in an attitude 
of repose, his foot on the neck of the demon ; one hand 
rests on the pummel of his sword, the other holds the 

It seems agreed that, as a work of art, there is only 
the St. Michael of Guido (in the Capuccini at Rome) 
which can be compared with that of Raphael ; the 
moment chosen is the same ; the treatment nearly the 
same ; the sentiment quite different. 

Here the angel, standing, yet scarcely touching the 
ground, poised on his outspread wings, sets his left foot 
on the head of his adversary ; in one hand he brandishes 

* By Marco di Kavenna. Bartsch, xiv. 106. 


a sword, in the other he holds the end of a chain, with 
which he is about to bind down tlie demon in the bot- 
tomless pit. The attitude has been criticised, and 
justly ; the grace is somewhat mannered, vergmg on 
the theatiical ; but rors\'th is too severe when he talks 
of the " air of a dancing-master " : one thing, however, 
is certain, we do not think about attitude when we look 
at Raphael's St. Michael ; in Guido's, it is the first 
thing that strikes us ; but when we look lurther, the 
head redeems all ; it is singularly beautiful, and in the 
blending of the masculine and feminine graces, in the 
serene purity of the brow, and the flow of the golden 
hair, there is something divine : a slight, very slight, 
expression of scorn is in the air of the head. The 
fiend is the worst part of the picture ; it is not a fiend, 
but a degraded prosaic human ruffian ; we laugh with 
incredulous contempt at the idea of an angel called 
down from heaven to overcome such a wretch. In 
Raphael the fiend is human, but the head has the god- 
like ugliness and malignity of a satyr ; Guido's fiend 
is only stupid and base. It ajjpears to me that there is 
just the same difference — the same kind of difference — 
between the angel of Raphael and the angel of Guido 
as between the description in Tasso and the description 
in Milton ; let any one compare them. In Tasso we 
are struck by the picturesque elegance of the description 
as a piece of art, the melody of the verse, the admirable 
choice of the exj'ressions, as in Guido by the finished, 
but somewhat artificial and studied grace. In Ra- 
phael and Milton we see only the vision of a " shape 

One of the most beautiful figures of St. Michael I 
ever saw occurs in a coronation of the Virgin by 
Moretto, and is touched by his peculiar sentiment of 
serious tenderness.* 

In devotional pictures such figures of St. Michael 
are sometimes grouped poetically with other j)ersonages, 
as in a most beautiful picture by Innocenza da Imola,f 

* Brescia, S. Maria delle Grazie. t Jiilan, Brera. 


where the archangel tramples on the demon ; St. Paul 
statidiug on one side and St. Benedict on the other, 
both of whom had striven with the fiend and had over- 
come him : the Madonna and Child are seen in a glory 

And again in a picture by Mabuse,* where St. 
Michael, as patron, sets his foot on the black, grinning 
fiend, and looks down on a kneeling votary, while the 
votary, with his head turned away, ajipcars to be wor- 
shipping, not the protecting angel, but the Madonna, 
to whom St. Michael presents him. Such A^otive pic- 
tures are not uncommon, and have a peculiar grace 
and significance. Herb the arcliaugel bears the vic- 
torious banner of the cross ; — he has conquered. In 
some instances he holds in his hand the head of the 
Dragon, and in all instances it is, or ought to be, the 
head of the Dragon which is transfixed : " Thou shalt 
bruise his head." 

Those representations in which St. Michael is not 
conqueror, hut combatant, in which the moment is one 
of transition, are less frequent ; it is then enaction, not 
an emhlciii, and the composition is historical rather than 
symbolical. It is the strife with Lucifer ; " when 
Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, anc^ 
the dragon fought and his angels, and the great dragon 
was cast out." (Rev. xii. 7.) In churches and chapels 
dedicated to St. Michael, or to "the Holy Angels," this 
appropriate subject often occurs ; as in a famous fresco 
by Spinello d'Arezzo, at Arczzo.j In the middle of 
the composition, JMichael, armed with sword and shield, 
is seen combating th(? dragon with seven heads, as de- 
scribed in the Apocalypse. Above and around are 
many angels also armed. At the top of the picture is 
seen an empty throne, the throne which Lucifer had 
" set in the north " ; below is seen Lucifer, falling with 
his angels over the parapet of heaven. (Isaiah xiv. 13.) 

* Boisseree Gallery. 

t A. D. 1400. Engraved in Lusinlo's " Early Florentine Mas- 


Tlie painter tasked his skill to render the transformation 
of the spirits of light into spirits of darkness as fearful 
and as hideous as possible ; and, being a man of a 
nervous temperament, the continual dwelling on these 
horrors began at length to trouble his brain. He 
fancied that Lucifer appeared to him in a dream, de- 
manding by what authority he had portrayed liim 
under an aspect so revolting ? — the painter awoke in 
horror, was seized with delirious fever, and so died. 

In his combat with the dragon, Michael is sometimes 
represented alone, and sometimes as assisted by the two 
other archangels, Gabriel and Raphael : as in the fresco 
by Signorelli, at Orvjeto, where one of the angels, 
whom we may suppose to be Raphael, looks down on 
the falling demons with an air of melancholy, almost 
of pity. 

In a picture by Marco Oggione (Milan, Brera) Mi- 
chael has precipitated the demon into the gulf, and 
hovers above, while Raphael and Gabriel stand below 
on each side, looking on ; all are clothed in voluminous 
loose white draperies, more like priests than warriors ; 
but it is a fine picture. 

In the large Rubens-room at Munich there are two 
pictures of Michael subduing the revolted angels. The 
large one, in which Michael is the principal figure, is 
not agreeable. Rubens could not lift himself sufficient- 
ly above the earth to conceive and embody the spiritual 
and heroic and beautiful in one divine form ; his St. 
Michael is vulgar. The smaller composition, where 
the fallen, or rather falling, angels fill the whole space, 
is a most wonderful effort of artistic invention. At the 
summit of the picture stands St. INIichael, the slucld in 
one hand, in the other the forked lightnings of Divine 
wrath ; and from above the rebel host tumble headlong 
"in hideous ruin and combustion hurled," and with 
such affright and amazement in every face, such a 
downward movement in every limb, that we recoil in 
dizzy horror while we look upon it. It is curious that 
Rubens should have introduced female reprobate spir- 


its ■. if he intended his picture as an allegory, merely 
the conquest of the spiritual over the sensual, he is ex- 
cusable ; but if he meant to figure the vision in the 
Apocalypse, it is a deviation from the proper Scriptural 
treatment, which is inexcusable. This picture remains, 
however, as a whole, a perfect miracle of art : the fault 
is, that we feel inclined to applaud as we do at some 
astonishing tour de force; such at least was my own 
feeling, and this is not the feeling appropriate to the 
subject. Though this famous picture is entitled tha 
Fall of the Angels, I have some doubts as to whether 
this was the intention of the painter : whether he did 
not mean to express the fall of sinners, flung by the 
Angel of judgment into the abyss of wrath and per- 
dition ? 

In those devotional pictures which exhibit St. Mi- 
chael as Lord of souls, he is winged and unarmed, and 
holds the balance. In each scale sits a little naked 
figure, representing a human soul ; one of these is 
usually represented with hands joined as in thankful- 
ness, — he is the beato, the elected ; the other is in an 
attitude of horror, — he is the rejected, the reprobate ; 
and often, but not necessarily, the idea is completed by 
the introduction of a demon, who is grasping at the 
descending scale, either with his talons, or with the 
long two-pronged hook, such as is given to Pluto in 
the antique sculpture. 

Sometimes St. Michael is thus represented singly; 
sometimes very beautifully in Madonna pictures, as in 
a picture by Leonardo da Vinci (a. i>. 1498), where St. 
Michael, a graceful angelic figure, with light flowing 
hair, kneels before the Madonna, and presents the bal- 
ance to the Infant, who seems to welcome the pious 
little soul who sits in the uppermost scale. 

I have seen this idea varied. St. Michael stands 
majestic with the balance poised in his hands : instead 
of a human figure in either scale, there are weights ; on 
one side is seen a company of five or six little naked 
shivering souls, as if waiting for their doom; on the 


other several demons, one of whom with his hook is 
pulling down the ascend inp; scale.* With or without 
the halance, St. Michael figures as Lord of souls when 
introduced into pictures of the Assumption or the 
Glorification of the Virgin. To understand the whole 
beauty and propriety of such representations, we must 
remember that, according to one of the legends of the 
death of the Virgin, her spirit was -consigned to the 
care of St. Michael until it was permitted to reanimate 
the spotless form, and with it ascend to heaven. 

In one or two instances only, I have seen St. Michael 
without wings. In general, an armed figure unwinged 
and standing on a dragon, we may presume to be a St. 
George ; but where the balance is introduced, it leaves 
no doubt of the personality, — it is a St. Michael. Oc- 
casionally the two characters — the protecting Angel 
of light and the Angel of judgment — are united, and 
we see St. Michael, with the dragon under his feet and 
the balance in his hand. This was a favorite and ap- 
propriate subject on tombs and chai>els dedicated to the 
dead ; such is the beautiful bas-relief on the tomb of 
Henry VII. in Westminster Abbey. 

In some representations of the last judgment, St. 
Michael, instead of the banner and cross, bears the 
scales ; as in the very curious bas-rchef on the facade 
of the church of St. Trophime at Aries. St. Michael 
here has a balance so large that it is almost as high as 
himself; it is not a mere emblem, but a fact ; a soul 
sits in each scale, and a third is rfsing up ; the angel 
holds out one hand to assist him. In another part of 
the same bas-relief St. Michael is seen carrying a hu- 
man soul (represented as a little naked figure) and 
bringing it to St. Peter and St. Paul. In a celebrated 
Last Judgment, attributed by some authors to John 
Van Eyck, by others to Justus of Ghent, St. Michael 
is grandly introduced. High up, in the centre, sits the 
Saviour, with the severe expression of the judge. Above 
him hover four angels with the instruments of the Paa- 

* Psalter of St. Louis, Bib. de 1' Arsenal, Paris. 


sion, and below him three others sounding trumpets, 
— I suppose the seven pre-eminent angels : the Virgin 
and St. John the Baptist on each side, and then the 
Apostles ranged in the usual manner. " In the lower 
half of the picture stands St. Michael, clad in golden 
armor, so bright as to reflect in the most complete man- 
ner all the surrounding objects. His figure is slender 
and elegant, but colossal as compared to the rest. He 
seems to be bending earnestly forward, a splendid pur- 
ple mantle falls from his shoulders to the ground, and 
his large wings are composed of glittering peacock's 
feathers. He holds the balance ; the scale with the 
good rests on earth, but that with the souls which are 
found wanting mounts into air. A demon stands ready 
to receive them, and towards this scale St. Michael 
points with the end of a black staff which he holds in 
his right hand." This picture, which is a chef-d'cEuvre 
of the early German school, is now in the church of 
St. Mary at Dantzig. 

The historical subjects in which St. Michael is intro- 
duced exhibit him as prince of the Hebrew nation, and 
belong properly to the Old Testament.* " After the 
confusion of tongues, and the scattering of the people, 
which occurred on the building of the Tower of Babel, 
every separate nation had an angel to direct it. To 
Michael was given in charge the people of the Lord. 
The Hebrews being carried away captive into the land 
of Assyria, Daniel prayed that they might be permit- 
ted to return when the seventy years of captivity were 
over ; but the Angel of Persia opposed himself on this 
occasion to the angels Michael and Gabriel. He wished 
to retain the Jews in captivity, because he was glad to 
have, within the bounds of his jurisdiction, a people 
who served the true God, and because he hoped that in 
time the captive Jews would convert to the truth the 
Assyrians and Persians committed to his care." This 

' St. Ephrem, Bib. Orient., torn. i. p. 78. De Beausobre, vol- 
li. p. 17. 


curious passage from one of the early Christian fathers, 
representing the good angels as opposed to each other, 
and one of them as disputing the commands of God, is 
an instance of the confused ideas on the subject of an- 
gels which prevailed in the ancient Church, and which 
prevail, I imagine, in the minds of many even at this 

In the story of Hagar in the wilderness, it is Michael 
who descends to her aid. In the sacrifice of Isaac, it 
is Michael who stays the arm of Abraham. It is Mi- 
chael wlio brings the plagues on Egypt, and he it is 
who leads the Israelites through the wilderness. It was 
the belief of the Jews, and of some of the early Christian 
fathers, that through his angel (not in person) God 
spoke to Moses from the burning bush and delivered to 
him the law on Mount Sinai ; and that the angel so 
delegated was Michael. 

It is Michael who combats with Lucifer for the body 
of Moses. (Jude v. 9.) According to one interpre- 
tation of this curious passage of Scripture, the demon 
wished to enter and to possess the form of Moses, in 
order to deceive the Jews by personating their leader ; 
but others say, that Michael contended for the body, 
that he might bury it in an unknown ])lace, lest the 
Jews should fall into the sin of paying divine honors to 
their legislator. This is a fine picturesque subject : the 
rocky desert, the body of Moses dead on the earth, the 
contest of the good and evil angel confronting each 
other, — these are grand materials ! It must have 
been rarely treated, for I remember but one instance, — 
the fresco by L. Signorelli, in the Sistine Chapel in the 

It is Michael who intercepts Balaam * when on his 
way to curse the people of Israel, and j)uts blessings 
into his mouth instead of curses : a subject often treat- 
ed, but as a fact rather than a vision. 

It is Michael who stands before Joshua in the plain 
by Jericho: "And Joshua said unto him. Art thou 

* Didron, Manuel Grec, p. 101. 


for us, or for our adversaries ? And he said, Nay ; but 
as captain of the host of the Lord am I now come. 
And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did wor- 
ship, and said unto him. What saith my lord unto his 
servant ? And the captain of the Lord's host said unto 
Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot ; for the place 
whereon thou standest is holy." (Joshua v. 13-1.5.) 
This subject is very uncommon. lu the Greek MS. 
already alluded to, I met with a magnificent example, 
— mag-niticent in point of sentiment, though half-ruined 
and effaced ; the God-like bearing of the armed angel, 
looking down on the prostrate Joshua, is here as fine as 

It is Michael who appears to Gideon.* It is Michael 
who chastises David. t It is Michael who exterminates 
the army of Sennacherib ; a subject magnificently 
painted by Rubens. (Some suppose that on this occa- 
sion God made use of the ministry of an evil angel. J) 

It is Michael who descends to deliver the Three 
Children from the burning fiery furnace. The Three 
Children in the furnace is a subject which appears very 
early in the catacombs and on the sarcophagi as a sym- 
bol of the redemption; — so early, that it is described 
by TertuUian ; § but in almost all the examples given 
there are three figures only : where there is a fourth, it 
is, of course, the protecting angel, but he is without 

Michael seizes the prophet Habakkuk by the hair of 
the head, and carries him to Babylon to the den of 
lions, that he may feed Daniel. 1[ This apocryphal 

* Judges vi. 11. t 2 Sam. xxiv. 16. 

J Calmet. § De Oratione, cap. xii. 

II Bottari, Tab. xxii. On the early Christian sarcophagi, as I 
have already observed, there are no winged angels. In the oft- 
repeated subject of the "Three Children in the burning fiery 
furnace," the fourth figure, when introduced, may represent a sou 
•f God, — i. e. an angel; or the Son of Gud, i. e. Christ, as ithaa 
been interpreted in both senses. 

V Bel and the Dragon, 26. 


subject occurs on several sarcophagi.* I have seen it 
also in illuminated MSS., but cannot at this moment 
refer to it. It occurs in a series of late Flemish prints 
after Hemskirk, — of which there are good impressions 
in the British Museum. 

The Archangel Michael is not named in the Gos- 
pels ; but in the legends of the Madonna, as we shall 
see hereafter, he plays a very important part, being 
deputed by Christ to announce to his mother her ap- 
proaching end, and to receive her soul. For the pres- 
ent I will only remark, that when, in accordance with 
this very ancient legend, an angel is represented kneel- 
ing before the Madonna, and holding in his hand a 
palm surmounted by stars, or a lighted taper, this angel 
is not Gabriel, announcing the conception of Christ, 
as is usually supposed, but Michael, as the angel of 
death. t 

The legend of ]Moute Galgano I saw in a large 
fresco, in the Santa Croce at Florence, by a painter of 
the Giotto school ; but in so bad a state, that I could 
only make out a bull on the top of a mountain, and a 
man shooting with a bow and arrow. On the opposite 
wall is the combat of Michael with the dragon, — very 
spirited, and in much better preservation. To distin- 
guish the apparition of St. Michael on Monte Galgano 
from the apparition on Mont St. Michel, in both of 
Avhich a bull and a bishop are principal figures, it is 
necessary to observe, that, in the last-named subject, 
the sea is always introduced at the base of the picture, 
and that the former is most common in Italian, and 
the latter in French works of art. In the French 
stained glass of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, 
St. Michael is a very popular subject, either with the 
dragon, or the scales, or both. 

Lately, in removing the whitewash from the east 
wall of the nave of Preston Churcli, near Brighton, 

* Bottari, xv. 49, 84. t See Legends of the Madonna. 




was discovered the outline of a group of figures, repre- 
senting St. Micliacl, fully draped, and witli large wings, 
bearing the balance; in each scale a human soul. The 
scale containing the beato is assisted by a figure fully 
draped, but so ruined that it is not possible to say 
whether it represents the Virgin or the guardian saint 
of the person who caused the fresco to be painted. I 
am told that in the old churches of Cornwall, and of 
the towns on the south coast, which had frequent inter- 
course with France, efligies of St. Michael occur fre- 
quently, both in painting and sculpture. On the old 
English coin, thence called an am/el, we have the figure 
of St. Michael, who was one of the jjatron saints of 
our Norman kings. 

I must now trust to the reader to contemplate the 
figures of St. Michael, so frequent and so varied in 
Art, with reference to these suggestions; and leaving 
for the present this radiant Spirit, this bright similitude 
of a primal and universal faith, we turn to his angelic 

St. Gabriel. 

Lat. Sanctus Gabriel. Hal. San Gabriello, San Gabriele, L' An- 
gelo Annuuziatore. Fr. St. Gabriel. 

" I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God." — Luke i. 19. 

In those passages of Scripture where the Angel Ga- 
briel is mentioned by name, he is brought before us in 
the character of a Messenger only, and always on im- 
portant occasions. In the Old Testament he is sent to 
Uaniel to announce the return of the Jews from cap- 
tivity, and to explain the vision which prefigures the 
destinies of mighty empires. His contest with tlie 
Angel of the kingdom of Persia, when St. Michael 
comes to his assistance, would be a splendid subject in 
fit hands ; I do not know that it has ever been painted. 
In the New Testament the mission of Gabriel is yet 
more sublime : he first appears to the high-priest Zach- 


arias, and foretells the birth of John the Baptist, — a 
subject which belongs especially to tlie life of that saint. 
Six months later, Gabriel is sent to announce the ap- 
pearance of the Redeemer of mankind.* 

In the Jewish tradition, Gabriel is the guardian of 
the celestial treasury. Hence, I presume, Milton has 
made him chief guardian of Paradise : — 

" Betwixt these rocky pillars Gabriel sat, 
Chief of the angelic guards, awaiting night." 

As the Angel who announced the bii-th of Clirist, he 
has been venerated as the Angel who presides over 
child-birth. He foi'ctells the birth of Samson, and, in 
the apocryphal legends, he foretells to Joachim the 
birth of the Virgin. In the East, he is of great im- 
portance. Mahomet selected him as his immediate 
teacher and inspirei', and he became the gi'eat protect- 
ing angel of Islamism : hence between Michael, the 
protector of the Jews and Christians, and Gabriel, the 
protector of the Moslem, there is supposed to exist no 
friendly feeling, — rather the reverse. 

In the New Testament, Gabriel is a much more im- 
portant personage than Michael ; yet I have never met 
with any picture in which he figures singly as an object 
of worship. In devotional pictures he figures as the 
second of the three Archangels, — " Secondo fra i 
primi," as Tasso styles liim ; or in his peculiar char- 
acter as the divine messenger of grace, " I' Afic/elo an- 
numiatore." He then usually bears in one hand a lily 
or a sceptre ; in the other a scroll on which is inscribed, 
" Ave Maria, Gratia plena ! " t 

* "The stone on which stood the Angel Gabriel when he an- 
nounced to the most Blessed Virgin the great mystery of the 
Incarnation," is among the relics enumerated as existing in the 
church of the Santa Croce at Rome. 

t In Paradise he sings forever the famous salutation : 

" Cantando Ave Maria gratia plena 
Dinanzi a lei le sue ali distese." 

Dajjte, Pour. 32. 


The subject called the Axxuxciation is one of the 
most frequent and most important, as it is one of the 
most beautiful, in the whole range of Christian Art. 
It belongs, however, to the history of the Virgin, 
where I shall have occasion to treat it at length ; yet 
as the Angel Gal)riel here assumes, by direct Scriptural 
testimony, a distinct name and personality, and as the 
dignity and signiticance proper to a subject so often 
unworthily and perversely treated depend very much 
on the character and deportment given to the celestial 
messenger, I shall make a few observations in this 
place with respect to the treatment of the angel, only 
reserving the theme in its general bearing for future 

In the early representations of the Annunciation it 
is treated as a religious mystery, and with a solemn 
simplicity and purity of feeling, which is very striking 
and graceful in itself, as- well as in harmony with the 
peculiar manner of the divine revelation. The scene 
is generally a porch or portico of a temple-like build- 
ing ; the Virgin stands (she is very seldom seated, and 
then on a kind of raised throne) ; the angel stands be- 
fore her, at some distance : very often, she is within 
the portico ; he is without. Gabriel is a majestic 
being, generally robed in white, wearing the tunic 
and pallium a rantique, his flowing hair bound by a 
jewelled tiara, with large many-colored wings, and 
bearing the sceptre of sovereignty in the left hand, 
while the right is extended in the act of benediction as 
well as salutation : " Hail ! thou that art hio-jilv fa- 
vored ! Blessed art thou among women ! " He is 
the principal figure : the attitude of the Virgin, with 
her drapery drawn over her head, her eyes drooping, 
and her hands folded on her bosom, is always expres- 
sive of the utmost submission and humility. So Dante 
introduces the image of the lowly Virgin receiving the 
angel as an illustration of the virtue of Humility ; — 

" Ed avea in atto impressa esta favella 
'Ecce aucilla Dei ' ' " — 



and Flaxman has admirably embodied this idea, both 
in the lofty angel with outspread arms, and the kneel- 
ing Virgin. Sometimes the angel floats in, with his 
arms crossed over his bosom, but still with the air of a 
superior being, as in the beautiful figure by Lorenzo 
Monaco, in the Florence Gallery. 

The two figures are not always in the same picture ; 
it was a very general custom to place the Virgin and 
the Angel, the "Annunziata" and the "Angelo an- 
nunziatore," one on each side of the altar, the place 
of the Virgin being usually to the right of the specta- 
tor ; sometimes the figures are half-length : sometimes, 
when placed in the same picture, they are in two sepa- 
rate compartments, a pillar, or some other ornament, 
running up the picture between them ; as in many old 
altar-pieces, where the two figures are placed above or 
on each side of the Nativity, or the Baptism, or the 
Marriage at Cana, or some other scene from the life 
and miracles of our Saviour. This subject does not 
appear on the sarcophagi ; the earliest instance I have 
met with is in the mosaic series over the arch in front 
of the choir in the church of Santa Maria Maggiore, at 
Eome, executed in the fifth century. Here we have 
two successive moments represented together. In the 
first the angel is sent on his mission, and appears flying 
down from heaven ; the earliest instance I have seen 
of an angel in the act of flight. In the second group 
the Virgin appears seated on a throne ; two angels 
stand behind her, supposed to represent her guardian 
angels, and the angel Gabriel stands in front with one 
»hand extended. The dresses are classical, and there is 
not a trace of the mediaeval feeling, or style, in the 
whole composition. 

In the Greek pictures, the Angel and the Virgin 
both stand ; and in the Annunciation of Cimabue the 
Greek formula is strictly adhered to. I have seen pic- 
tures of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, in which 
Gabriel enters as a princely ambassador, with three 
little angels bearing up his mantle behind : in a pic- 


ture in tlie collection of Prince Wallerstein, one meek 
and beautiful angel bears up the rich robes of the ma- 
jestic archangel, like a page in the train of a sovereign 
prince. But from the beginning of the fourteenth cen- 
tury we perceive a change of feeling, as well as a change 
of style : the veneration paid to the Virgin demanded 
another treatment. She becomes not merely the prin- 
cipal person, but the superior being ; she is the " Re- 
gina angelorum," and the angel bows to her, or kneels 
before her, as to a queen.* Thus in the famous altar- 
piece at Cologne, the angel kneels ; he bears a sceptre, 
and also a sealed roll, as if he were a celestial ambas- 
sador delivering his credentials : about the same period 
we sometimes see the angel merely with his hands 
folded over his breast, and his head inchned, delivering 
his message as if to a superior being. 

I cannot decide at what period the lily first replaced 
the sceptre in the hand of the angel, not merely as the 
emblem of purity, but as the symbol of the Virgin 
from the verse in the Canticles usually applied to her : 
" I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valley." 
A lily is often placed in a vase near the Virgin, or 
in the foreground of the picture : of all the attributes 
])laccd in the hand of the angel, the lily is the most 
usual, and the most expressive. 

The painters of Siena, who often displayed a new 
and original sentiment in the treatment of a subject, 
have represented the angel Gabriel as the announcer 
of "peace on earth"; he kneels before the Virgin, 
crowned with olive, and . bearing a branch of olive in 

* See the L'rsuline Manual. " When an angel anciently a.\\- 
peared to the patriarchs or prophets, he was received with due 
honor as being exalted above them, both by nature and grace ; 
but when an archangel visited Mary, he was struck with her supe- 
rior dignity and pre-eminence, and, approaching, saluted her with 
admiration and respect. Though accustomed to the lustre of the 
highest heavenly spirits, yet he was dazzled and amazed at the 
dignity and spiritual glory of her whom he came to salute Mother 
of God, while the attention of the whole heavenly court was with 
rapture fixed upon her."' 


his hand, as in a picture by Taddeo Bartoli. Thcng 
is also a beautiful 3t- Gabriel by Martin Schun, stand- 
ing, and crowned with olive. So Dante : — 

" L' angel che venne in terra col decreto 
Delia molt' annl lagrimata pace." 

Another passage in Dante which the painters seem to 
have iiad before them shows us the Madonna as queen, 
and the angel as adoring : — 

"Qual ^ quel angel che con tanto giuoco 
Guarda negli occhi la nostra regina 
Innamorato si che par di fuoco?" 
Ed egli a me, — " Baldezza e leggiadria 
Quanta esser puote in angelo ed in alma 
Tutta e in lui, e si volem che sia ! " 

It is in seeking this baldezza e leggiadria in a misN 
taken sense that tlie later painters have forgotten all 
the spiritual dignity of the Angel Messenger. 

Where the angel l)ears a lighted taper, which the 
Virgin extends her hand to take from him ; or, kneel- 
ing, bears in his hand a palm-branch, surmounted by 
seven or twelve stars, the subject represented is not the 
announcement of the birtli of the Saviour, but the 
death of the Virgin, a part of her legendary history 
which is rarely treated and easily mistaken ; then the 
announcing angel is not Gabriel, but Michael.* 

In old German Art, the angel in the Annunciation 
is habited in priestly garments richly embroidered. 
The scene is often the bedroom of the Virgin ; and 
while the announcing angel enters and kneels at the 
threshold of the door, the Holy Ghost enters at the 
window. I have seen examples in which Gabriel, 
entering at a door behind the Virgin, unfolds his offi- 
cial "Ave Maria." He has no lily, or sceptre, and 
she is apparently conscious of his presence without 
seeing him.f 

* The Annunciation and the Death of the Virgin, and the office 
and character of the announcing angel in both subjects, are fully- 
treated and illustrated in the " Legends of the Madonna." 

t As in a very curious print by " Le Graveor de 14:66 " ; and 
there are other instances. 


But in the representations of the sixteenth century 
we tind neither the solemnity of the early Italian nor 
the naivete of the early German school ; and this di- 
vine subject becomes more and more materialized and 
familiarized, until losing its spiritual character, it strikes 
us as shockingly prosaic. One cannot say that the 
angel is invariably deficient in dignity or the Virgin 
in grace. In the Venetian school and the Bologna 
school we find occasionally very beautiful Annuncia- 
tions ; but in general the half-draped fluttering angels 
and the girlish-looking Virgins are nothing less than 
offensive ; and in the attempt to vary the sentiment, 
the naturalisti have here run the risk of being much too 

In the Cathedral at Orvieto, the Annunciation is rep- 
resented in front of the choir by two colossal statues 
by Francesco Mochi : to the right is the angel Gabriel, 
poised on a marble cloud, in an attitude so fantastic 
that he looks as if he were going to dance ; on the 
other side stands the Virgin, conceived in a spirit how 
difterent ! — yet not less mistaken ; she has started 
from her throne ; with one hand she grasps it, with 
the other she seems to guard her person against the 
intruder : majesty at once, and fear, a look of insulted 
dignity, are in the air and attitude, — " par die minacci 
e tenia net tempo istesso," — but I thought of Mrs. Sid- 
dons while I looked, not of the Virgin Mary. 

This fault of sentiment I saw reversed, but equally 
in the extreme, in another example, — a beautiful 
miniature.* The Virgin seated on the side of lier bed 
sinks back alarmed, almost fainting ; the angel in a 
robe of crimson, with a white tunic, stands before her, 
half turning away and grasping his sceptre in his hand, 
with a proud commanding air, like a magnificent surly 
god, — a Jupiter who had received a repulse. 

I pass over other instances conceived in a taste even 
more blamable, — Gabriels like smirking, winged lord 

* Chants Eoyales, Paris Bibl. Nat., MS. No. 6989. 


chamberlains ; and Virgins, half prim, half voluptuous, 
— the sanctity and high solemnity of the event utterly 
lost. Let this suffice for the present : I may now leav« 
the reader to his own feeling and discrimination. 

St. Raphael- 

Lat. Sanctus Raphael. Ital. San Raffaello. Fr. Saint Raphael 
Ger. Der Heilige Rafael. 

" I am Raphael, one of the Seven Holy Angels which present 
the prayers of the Saints, and which go in and out before the 
glory of the Holy One." — Tobit xii. 15. 

I HAVE already alluded to the established belief, that 
every individual man, nay, every created being, hath a 
guardian angel deputed to watch over him : — Woe 
unto us, if, by our negligence or our self-will, we offend 
him on whose vigilance we depend for help and sal- 
vation ! But the prince of guardian spirits, the guar- 
dian angel of all humanity, is Raphael ; and in this 
character, according to the early Christians, he ap- 
peared to the shepherds by night " with good tidings 
of great joy, which shall be for all people." It is, how- 
ever, from the beautiful Hebrew romance of Tobit that 
his attributes are gathered : he is the protector of the 
young and innocent, and he watches over the pilgrim 
and the wayfarer. The character imputed to him in 
the Jewish traditions has been retained and amplitied 
by JV'Iilton : Raphael is the angel sent by God to warn 
Adam : — 

" The affable archangel 
Raphael ; the sociable spirit that deigned 
To travel with Tobias, and secured 
His marriage with the seven times wedded maid." 

And the character of the angel is preserved through- 
out ; his sympathy with the human race, his benignity, 
his eloquence, his mild and social converse. So when 
Adam blesses him : — 


" Since to part, 
Go, heavenly guest, ethereal messenger, 
Sent from whose sovereign goodness I adore ! 
Gentle to me and affable hath been 
Thy condescension, and shall be honored ever 
With grateful memory. Thou to mankind 
Be good and friendly still, and oft return ! " 

This character of benignity is stamped on all the best 
representations of Eapliael, which, however, are not 
common: they occur principally in the chapels dedi- 
cated to the holy guardian angels ; but there ^re also 
churches and chapels dedicated to him singly. 

The devotional figures of Raphael exhibit liim in 
the dress of a pilgrim or traveller, " his habit fit for 
speed succinct," sandals on his feet, his hair bound with 
a fillet or diadem, the staff in his hand, and sometimes 
a bottle of water or a wallet (pauetiere) slung to his 
belt. In the figure by Murillo, one of the most beauti- 
ful pictures in the Leuchtenberg Gallery, Raphael is 
the guardian and guide of the votary who appears 
below, — a bishop who probably bore the same name.* 
Sometimes, as guardian spirit, he has a sword : the 
most beautiful example I could cite of this treatment is 
the figure in the Breviary of Anne of Bretagne (a. d. 
1500) ; he wears a pale-green tunic l)ordered with gold, 
and wings of a deep rose color ; he has a casket or 
wallet slung over his shoulder by a golden belt ; in 
one hand ho holds a sword, and the other is raised with 
a warning gesture ; his countenance, beautiful and be- 
nign as possible, yet says, " Take heed." More com- 
monly, however, he carries a small casket, box, or vase, 
supposed to contain the "fishy charm" against the 
evil spirits. (Tobit vi. 6, 7.) 

Raphael, in his character of guardian angel, is gen- 
erally represented as leading the youthful Tobias. 
When, in order to mark the difference between the 
celestial and the mortal being, Tobit is figured so small 

* Mr. Stirling entitles this picture " an angel appearing to a 
Bishop at his prayers." 


as to look like a child, and when the angel wears his 
spirit-wings, and is not disguised, the whole subject 
becomes idealized : it is no longer an historical action, 
but a devotional allegory; and Tobias with his fish 
I'epresents the Christian, the believer, guarded and 
guided through his life-pilgrimage by the angelic 
monitor and minister of divine mercy. 

There is a small side chapel in the chiirch of Saint 
Euphemia, at Verona, dedicated to St. Raphael. The 
walls are painted with frescos from the story of Tobit ; 
and over tlie altar is that masterpiece of Carotto, rep- 
resenting the tin-ee archangels as three graceful spirit- 
like figures without wings. The altar being dedicated 
to Raphael, he is here the principal figure ; he alone 
has the glory encircling his head, and takes precedence 
of the otJiers ; he stands in the centre leading Tobias, 
and looking down on him witli an air of such saintly 
and benign protection, that one feels inclined to say or 
sing in the words of the litany, " Sancte Raphael, ado- 
lescentium pudicitioe defensor, ora pro nobis ! " Even 
more divine is the St. Michael wlio stands on the right, 
with one hand gathering up the folds of his crimson 
robe, the other leaning on his great two-handed sword ; 
but such a head, such a countenance looking out upon 
us — so earnest, powerful, and serious ! — we recognize 
the Lord of Souls, the Angel of Judgment. To the 
left of Raphael stands Gabriel, the Angel of Redemp- 
tion; he holds the lily, and looks up to heaven adoring : 
this is the least expressive of the three heads, but still 
beautiful ; and, on the whole, the picture left a stronger 
impression on my mind than any I had seen at Venice, 
the glorious Assumption excepted. The coloring in 
its glowing depth is like that of Giorgione. Vasari 
tells us, that this picture, painted when Carotto was 
young (about a. d. 1495), was criticised because the 
limbs of the ailgels were too slender ; to which Carotto, 
famous for his repartees, replied, " Then they will fly 
the better ! " The drawing, however, it must be con- 
ceded, is not the best part of the picture. 


The earliest picture of Titian which remains to us 
is a St. Raphael leading Tobias;* beautiful, but not 
equal, certainly, to that of Carotto. Rapliael, as we 
might naturally suppose, painted his guardian angel 
and patron saint con amore : t we have by him two St. 
Raphaels ; the first, a little figure executed when he 
was a boy in the studio of his master Perugino, is now 
on one side of an altar-piece in the Certosa at Pavia. 
Later in life, and in one of his finest works, he has in- 
troduced his patron saint with infinite beauty of feeling : 
in the Madonna dclla Pesce,J the A^irgin sits upon her 
throne, with the Infant Christ in her arms ; the angel 
Raphael presents Tobias, who is not here a youth, but 
a child ; while the Infant Christ turns away from the 
wise, bearded old doctor, who is intently studying his 
great book, to welcome the angel and his charge. The 
head of the angel, looking up in the face of the Ma- 
donna, is in truth sublime : it would be impossible to 
determine whether it belongs to a masculine or a femi- 
nine being ; but none could doubt that it is a divine 
being, filled with fervent, enthusiastic, adoring love. 
The fish in the hand of Tobias has given its name to 
the picture ; and I may as well observe that in the de- 
votional pictures, where the fish is merely an attribute, 
expressing Christian baptism, it is usually very small : 
in the story it is a sort of monster, which sprang out 
of the river and would have devoured him. 

All the subjects in which the Archangel Raphael is 
an actor belong to the history of Tobit. The scenes 
of this beautiful Scriptural legmd — I must call it so — 
have been popular subjects of Art, particularly in the 
later schools, and have been admirably treated by some 
of the best Dutch and Flemish painters : the combi- 
nation of the picturesque and poetical with the homely 
and domestic recommended it particularly to Rem- 
brandt and his school. Tobias dray'riufr the fish 


* In the church of S. JIarziale, Venice. 
t Passavant's Rafael, vol. ii. p. 6. 150. 
J Madrid Gallery. 



ashore, while the angel stands by, is a fine picturesque 
landscape subject which has been often repeated. The 
spirited little sketch by Salvator,* in which the figure 
of the guardian angel is admirable for power and ani- 
mated grace ; the twilight effect by Rembrandt ; t 
another by Domenichino ; three by Claude ; may be 
cited as examples. 

In such pictures, as it has been rightly observed, the 
angel ought not to have wings : he is disguised as the 
friendly traveller. The dog, which ought to be omitted 
in the devotional pictures, is here a part of the story, 
and figures with great propriety. 

Rembrandt painted the parting of Tobias and his 
parents four times ; Tobias led by the angel, four 
times : Tobias healing his father, once ; the departure 
of the angel, twice. Of this last subject, the picture 
in the Louvre may be pronounced one of his finest ; — 
miraculous for true and spirited expression, and for the 
action of the soaring angel, who parts the clouds and 
strikes through the air like a strong swimmer through 
the waves of the sea. 

The story of Tobit, as a series of subjects, has been 
very frequently represented, always in the genre and 
picturesque style of the later schools. I shall have to 
return to it hereafter ; here I have merely alluded to 
the devotional treatment, in order to direct attention to 
the proper character of the Archangel Raphael. 

And thus we have shown 

" how Holy Church 
Doth represent with human countenance 
Gabriel and Michael, and him who made 
Tobias whole," — Dakie, Par. c. iv. 

* Louvre, Ko. 358. t In our National Gallery. 



1. In a picture by Gentile da Fabriano {Berlin Qallery, 1130), 
the Virgin and Cliild are entliroued, and on each side of tlie throne 
is a tree, on the brandies of which are little red Seraphim winged 
and perched like birds, singing and making music. I remember 
also a little Dutch jirint of a Riposo (v. " Legends of the Ma- 
donna "), in which five little angels are perched on the trees 
above, singing and inlaying for the solace of the divine Infant. 
Thus we have Dante's idea of the Uccelli di Dio reproduced in a 
more familiar form. 

2. In the Convent of Sant-Angelo at Bologna, Camillo Procacci- 
no painted the " Acts of the Holy Angels " in the following order: 
1. The Fall of the Dragon. 2. The Angels drive Adam and Eve 
from Paradise. 3. The three Angels visit Abraham. 4. The An- 
gel stays the arm of Abraham. 5. The Angel wrestles with 
Jacob. 6. The Angels visit Jacob in a Dream. 7. The Angel 
delivers the three Children in the burning fiery Furnace. 8. The 
Angel slays the Host of Sennacherib. 9. The Angel protects 
Tobit. 10. The Punishment of Heliodorus. 11. The Annuncia- 
tion to Mary. It will be remarked that all these subjects are 
strictly Scriptural. 


" Matthew wrote for the Hebrews ; Mark, for the Italians ; Luke, 
tor the Greeks ; for all, the great herald John." — Gregory Na- 

INCE on the Four Evangelists, as the -wit- 
nesses and intcrpi-etcrs of a i-evcaled religion, 
the whole Christian Church may he said to 
rest as upon four majestic pillars, we cannot 
De surprised that representations of them should abound, 
and tliat their efhgies should have been introduced into 
Christian places of worship from very early times. 
Generally, we find them represented together, grouped, 
or in a series ; sometimes in their collective cliaracter, 
as the Four Witnesses ; sometimes in their individual 
character, each as an inspired teacher, or beneficent 
patron. As no authentic resemblances of these sacred 
personages have ever been known or even supposed to 
exist, such representations have always been either 
symbolical or ideal. In the symbol, the aim was to 
embody, under some emblematical image, the spiritual 
mission ; in the ideal portrait, the artist, left to his own 
conception, borrowed from Scripture some leadmg trait 
(when Scripture afforded any authority for sucli), and 
adding, with what success his skill could attain, all that 
his imagination could conceive, as expressive of dig- 
nity and persuasive eloquence, — the look " commercing 
with the skies," the commanding form, the reverend 



face, the ample draperies, — he put the book or the pen 
into his hand, and thus the writer and the teacher of 
the truth was placed before us. 

The earliest type under which the Four Evangelists 
are figured is an emblem of the simplest kind •, four 
scrolls placed in the four angles of a Greek cross, or 
four books (tlie Gospels), represented allegorically those 
who wrote or promulgated them. The second type 
chosen was more poetical, — the four rivers which had 
their source in Paradise : representations of this kind, 
in which the Saviour, figured as a lamb holding the 
cross, or in his human form, with a lamb near him, 
stands on an eminence, from which gush four rivers or 
fountains, are to be met with in the cataconil)s, on an- 
cient sarcophagi preserved among the Christian relics 
in the Vatican, and in several old churches constructed 
between the second and the fifth century. 

At what period the four mysterious creatures in the 
vision of Ezekiel (ch. i. 5) were first adopted as sig- 
nificant symbols of the Four Evangelists does not 
seem clear. The Jewish doctors interpreted them as 
figuring the Four Archangels, — Michael, Raphael, 
Gabriel, Uriel ; and afterwards applied them as em- 
blems of the Four Great Prophets, — Isaiah, Jeremiah, 
Ezekiel, and Daniel. By the early Oriental Christians, 
who typified the whole of the Old Testament, the trans- 
fer of the emblem to the Four Evangelists seems ob- 
vious and easy ; we find it alluded to as early as the 
second century. The four "Beasts" of corresponding 
form in the Revelation (chap. iv. 7), which stood round 
the throne of the Lamb, were likewise thus interpreted ; 
but it was not till the fifth century that we find these 
symbols assuming a visible form, and introduced into 
works of art. In the seventh century they had become 
almost universal, as distinctive attributes. 

The general application of the Four Creatures to the 
Four Evangelists is of much earlier date than the sepa- 
rate and individual application of each symbol, which 
has varied at different times ; that propounded by Si. 



Jerome, in his commentary on Ezekiel, has since his time 
prevailed universally. Thus, then, 1. To St. Matthew 
was given the Cherub, or human semblance, because he 
begins his Gospel with the human generation of Christ ; 
or, according to others, because in his Gospel the human 
nature of the Saviour is more insisted on than the 
divine. In the most ancient mosaics, the type is hu- 
man, not angelic, for the head is that of a man with a 
beard. 2. St. Mark has the Lion, because he has set 
forth the royal dignity of Christ ; or, according to 
others, because he begins with the mission of the Bap 
tist — " the voice of one crying in the wilderness" — which 
is figured by the lion : or according to a third interpre- 
tation, the lion was allotted to St. Mark because there 
was, in the middle ages, a popular belief tliat the young 
of the lion was born dead, and after three days was 
awakened to vitality by the breath of its sire ; some 
authors, however, represent the lion as vivifying his 
young not by his breath, but by his roar. In either 
case the application is the same ; the revival of the 
young lion was considered as symbolical of the resur- 
rection, and Mark was commonly called the " historian 
of the resiuTCction." Another commentator observes 
that Mark begins his Gospel with "roaring"; "the 
voice of one crying in the wilderness " ; and ends it 
fearfully with a curse, — " He that beheveth not shall 
be damned"; and that, therefore, his appropriate attri- 
bute is the most terrible of beasts, the lion.* 3. Luke 
has the Ox, because he has dwelt on the priesthood of 
Christ, the ox being the emblem of sacrifice. 4. John 
has tlie Eagle, which is the symbol of the highest in- 
spiration, because he soared upwards to the contempla- 
tion of the divine nature of the Saviour. 

But the order in which, in theological Art, these 
symbols are placed, is not the same as the order of the 
Gospels according to the canon. Rupertus considers 
the Four Beasts as typical of the Incarnation, the Pas- 
sion, the Resurrection, and the Ascension ; an idea 

* Rupertus, Commentar. in Apocal., c. 4. Mark xvi. 16. 


previously dwelt upon by Durandus, who adds, that 
the man and the lion are placed on the right, because 
the incarnation and the resurrection are the joy of the 
whole earth ; whilst the ox is on the left, because 
Christ's sacrifice was a trouble to the apostles ; and the 
eagle is above the ox, as suggestive of our Lord's up- 
ward flight into heaven. According to others, the 
proper order in the ascending scale is thus : At the 
lowest point on the left, the ox ; to the right, the lion ; 
above the ox, the eagle ; and above all, the angel. So 
in Raphael's Vision of Ezekiel, the angel gazes into 
the face of the Holy One, the others form his throne. 

I have dwelt on these fanciful interpretations and 
disquisitions, because the symbols of the Evangelists 
meet us at every turn ; in the mosaics of the old Italian 
churches, in the decorative sculpture of our old cathe- 
drals, in the Gothic stained glass, in the ancient pictures 
and miniatures, on the carved and chased covers of 
old books ; everywhere, in short, where enters the idea 
of their divine mission, — and where is it not ? The 
profound thought, as well as the vivid imagination, ex- 
ercised in some of these early works of art, is beginning 
to be appreciated ; and we should lose the half of what 
is poetical and significant and venerable in these ap- 
parently arbitrary and fanciful symbols, if we merely 
seized the general intention, and not the relative and 
appropriate meaning of each. 

I will only add (for I have restricted myself to the 
consideration of the mysteries of faith only so far as 
they are carried into the forms of Art), that these sym- 
bols of the Four Evangelists were in their combination 
held to be symbolical of the Redeemer, in the fourfold 
character then universally assigned to him, as man, as 
king, as high-priest, and as God; according to this 
Latin verse : — 

" Quatuor hsec Dominum signant animalia Christum, 
Est Homo nascendo, vitulus<\\ni sacer moriendo, 
Et Leo surgendo, cceIos a^Mj/aque petendo ; 
Nee minus hos scribas animalia et ipsa figurant." 


This would again alter the received order of the 
symbols, and place the angelic or human semblance 
lower than the rest : but I have never seen them so 
placed, at least I can recollect no instance. 

A Greek mosaic, existing in the Convent of Vato- 
pedi, on Mount Athos, exhibits an attempt to reduce 
to form the wild and sublime imagery of the prophet 
Ezekiel: the Evangelists, or rather the Gospels, are 
represented as the tetramorph, or four-faced creature, 
with wings full of eyes, and borne on wheels of living 

The Tetramorph, i. e. the union of the four attri- 
butes of the Evangelists, in one figure, is in Greek Art 
always angelic or winged, — a mysterious thing. The 
Tetramorph in Western Art has in some instances be- 
come monstrous, instead of mystic and poetical. In a 
miniature of the Ilortus Deliciarum, we lind the new 
Law, or Christianity, represented as a woman crowned 
and seated on an animal which, with the body of a 
horse, has the four heads of the mystic creatures ; and 
of the four feet, one is human ; one hoofed, for the ox ; 
one clawed like an eagle's ; and one like a lion's : un- 
derneath is inscribed Animal Ecdesicc. In some other 
examples, the Church, or the new Law, is seated in a 
triumphal car drawn by the eagle, the lion, and the ox, 
while the angel holds the reins and drives as charioteer. 

The early images of the Evangelical symbol are 
uniformly represented with Avings, for the same reason 
that wings were given to the angels, — they were an- 
gels, i. e. bringers of good tidings : for instance, in the 
earliest example to which I can refer, a rude fragment 
of a bas-relief in terra-cotta, found in the catacombs, 
which represents a lamb with a glory holding a cross ; 
on the right, an angel in a sacerdotal garment (St. 
Matthew), on the left the wngcd ox (St. Luke), each 
holding a book. 

In the most ancient Christian churches we find these 
symbols perpetually recurring, generally in or over the 
recess at the east end (the apsis, or tribune), where 


stands the altar. And as the image of Christ, as the 
Redeemer, either under the semblance of the lamb, or 
in his human likeness, as a grand, calm, solemn figure 
enthroned, and in the act of benediction, forms invaria- 
bly the principal object ; — almost as invariably the 
Evangelists are either at the four corners, or ranged in 
a line above or below, or they are over the arch in front 
of the tribune. Sometimes they are the heads only of 
the mystic creatures, on an azure ground, studded with 
stars, floating as in a firmament : or the half figure 
ends in a leafy scroll, like the genii in an arabesque ; 
or the creature is given at full length and entire, witli 
four wings, holding the book, and looking much like a 
figure in heraldry. 

The next step was the combination of the emblem 
■with the human form, i. e. the head of the lion, ox, or 
eagle set upon the figure of a man. There is a figure 
of St. John standing with the head of an eagle, holding 
the Gospel. There is another rudely engraved in Miin- 
ter's work, with the eagle's head, wings upon the shoul- 
ders, and a scroll. I remember another of St. John 
seated, writing, with the head and clawed feet of an 
eagle, and the body and hands of a man. Such figures 
as a series I have seen in ornaments, and frequently in 
illuminated MSS., but seldom in churches, and never 
of a large size. A very striking and comparatively 
modern example of this peculiar treatment occurs in 
a lias-relief on the door of the College of St. Stephen 
and St. Lawrence, at Castiglione, in which the Four 
Evangelists are represented as half-length human fig- 
ures, amply draped and holding the Gospels, each \vith 
the emblematic head and large outspread wings. The 
bronze bas-reliefs of the Evangelists on each side of 
the choir of St. Antonio, at Padua, are similar in form, 
and very fine, both in conception and workmanship. 

In a series of full-length figures from the first com- 
partment of the Life of Christ by Angelico da Fiesole 
(Fl. Acad.), the figures stand round a mystic circle, 
alternately with the prophets. We must remember, 


that however monstrous and grotesque sucli figures 
may appear to the eye, they are not more unnatural 
than the angelic representations with which we are so 
familiar that we see in them beauty only, — not consid- 
ering that men with the wings of birds are as merely 
emblematical and impossible as men with animal heads. 
It is interesting, and leads the mind to many specula- 
tions, to remark that the Babylonish captivity must 
liave familiarized the Israelites with the combination 
of the human and animal attributes in the same figure. 
The gigantic bas-reliefs from Nineveh show us winged 
bulls w^ith human heads, and the human form with the 
eagle's head and wings. 

In a few later examples the only symbolical attribute 
retained is a pair of wings. There is a curious set of 
Evangelists, of a minute size, and exquisitely engraved 
by Hans Beham : they are liabited in the old German 
fashion ; each has his book, his emblem, and in addi- 
tion the expressive wings. 

These animal-symbols, whether alone or in combina- 
tion with the human forms, were perfectly intelligible 
to the people, sanctified in their eyes by tradition, by 
custom, and by the most solemn associations. All 
direct imitation of nature was, by the best painters, 
carefully avoided. In this respect how fine is Raphael's 
Vision of Ezekiel ! how sublime and how true in feel- 
ing and conception ! where the Messiah comes floating 
along, upborne by the Four Creatures, — niysterious, 
spiritual, wonderful beings, animals in form, but in all 
else unearthly, and tlie winged ox not less divine than 
the winged angel ! * Whereas in the later times, when 
the artist piqued himself upon the imitation of nature, 
the mystic and venerable significance was wholly lost. 
As a striking instance of this mistaken stylo of treat- 

* There is a small and beautiful picture by Giulio Romano in 
the Belvedere at Vienna, representing tlie emblems of the Four 
Evangelists grouped in a picturesque manner, which was proba- 
bly suggested by Raphael's celebrated picture, which is in the 
Pitti palace at Florence. 



ment, we may turn to the famous group of the Fouv 
Evangelists by Rubens,* grand, colossal, standing, or 
rather moving figures, each with his emblem, if em- 
blems they can be called which are almost as full of 
reality as nature itself : — the ox so like life we expect 
him to bellow at us ; the magnificent lion flourishing 
his tail, and looking at St. Mark as if about to roar at 
him ! — and herein lies the mistake of the great painter, 
that, for the religious and mysterious emblem, he has 
substituted the creatures themselves : this being one of 
the instances, not unfrequent in Art, in which the literal 
truth becomes a manifest falsehood. 

In ecclesiastical decoration the Four Evangelists are 
sometimes grouped significantly with the Four Greater 
Prophets ; thus representing the connection between 
the new and the old Law. I met with a curious in- 
stance in the Cathedral of Chartres. The five great 
windows over the south door may be said to contain a 
succinct system of theology, according to the belief of 
the thirteenth century : here the Virgin, i. e. the Church 
or Religion, occupies the central window ; on one side 
is Jeremiah, carrying on his shoulders St. Luke, and 
Isaiah carrying St. Matthew ; on the other side, Eze- 
kiel bears St. John, and Daniel St. Mark ; thus repre- 
senting the New Testament resting on the Old. 

In ecclesiastical decoration, and particularly in the 
stained glass, they are often found in combination with 
the Four Doctors, the Evangelists being considered as 
witnesses, the Doctors as interpreters, of the truth : or 
as a series with the Four Greater Propiiets, the Four 
Sibyls, and the Four Doctors of the Church, the Evan- 
gelists taking the third place. 

If, as late as the sixteenth century, we find the Evan- 
gelists still expressed by the mystic emblems (as in the 
fine bronzes in the choir of Sant Antonio at Padua), as 
early as the sixth we have in the Greek MSS. and mo- 
saics the Evangelists as venerable men, and promulga- 
tors of a revelation ; as in San Vitale at Ravenna (a. d. 

* Qrosvenor Gallery. 


547) : on each side of die choir, nearest the altar, we 
find the propliets Isaiah and Jeremiah ; then follow the 
Evangelists, two on each side, all alike, all classically 
draped in white tunics, each holding an open book, on 
which is inscribed " Secundum Marcum," " Secundum 
Johannem," &c. ; and above each the animal symbol 
or attribute, large, full length, and grandly designed. 
In modern ecclesiastical decoration, the usual and ap- 
propriate situation of the Four Evangelists is immedi- 
ately under the dome, nearest to the Savioui-, after the 
angels, or after the prophets, where either are intro- 
duced. I will mention here a few examples celebrated 
in the history of Art ; premising that among the works 
of Leonardo, of Michael Angelo, and Raphael, we find 
no representations of the Four Evangelists ; which is 
singular, considering that such figures entered necessa- 
rily into every scheme of theological decorative art. 

By Cimabue (a. d. 1270), larger than life, on the 
vault of the choir in San Francesco d' Assisi. 

By Giotto (a. d. 1320), in the choir of Sant' Apolli- 
nare, at Ravenna : seated, and each accompanied by 
one of the doctors of the church. 

By Angelico (a. d. 1390), round the dome of the 
chapel of San Niccolo, in the Vatican ; all seated, 
each with his emblem. 

By Masaccio (a. d. 1420), round the dome of the 
chapel of the Passion in San Clemente, at Rome ; ad- 
mirable for simple grandeur. 

By Perugino (a. d. 1490), on the dome of the chapel 
del Cambio, at Perugia ; the heads admirable. 

By Correggio (a. d. 1520), immediately under the 
cupola of San Giovanni, in four lunettes, magnificent 
figures : and again in the Cathedral of Parma, each 
seated in glory, with one of the doctors of the Ciiurch. 

By Domenichino, two sets (a. d. 1620). Those in 
the church of St. Andrea della Valle, at Rome, are 
considered his finest works, and celebrated in the his- 
tory of art : they are grand figures. The emblematical 
sinimals are here combined with the personages in a 


manner the most studied and pieturesque ; and tlie 
angels which sport around them, playing with the 
mane of St. Mark's lion, or the pallet and pencils 
of St. Luke, are like beautiful "Amoretti," — but we 
hardly think of angels. The series at Grotta-Fcrrata 
is inferior. 

Tlie Four Evangelists by Valentin (a. d. 1632), in 
the Louvre, had once great celebrity, and have beea 
often engraved ; they appear to me signal examples 
of all that should be avoided in character and senti- 
ment. St. Matthew, for example, is an old beggar ; 
the model for the attendant angel is a little French 
gamin, " a qui Valentin a commande de sortir un bras 
de la manche de sa chemise, que de I'autre main il 
soutieut gauchement." 

Le Sueur (a. d. 1655) has represented the Four 
Evangelists seated at a table writing ; the Holy Ghost 
descends upon them in the form of a dove. 

Towards the end of the seventeenth century, we find 
sets of the Evangelists in which the emblems are alto- 
gether omitted, and the personages distinguished by 
their situation, or by their names inscribed under or 
over them : but we miss those antique Scriptural at- 
tributes which placed them before us as beings fore- 
shadowed in the prophecies uttered of old ; they have 
become mere men. 

This must suflfice for the Evangelists considered as a 
series and in their collective character ; but it will be 
interesting to pause for a moment, and take a rapid 
retrospective view of the j^rogress, from first to last, in 
the expression of an idea through form. 

First, we have the mere fact ; the four scrolls, or 
the four books. 

Next, the idea ; the four rivers of salvation flowing 
from on high, to fertilize the Avhole earth. 

Thirdly, the prophetic Symbol ; the winged cherub 
if fourfold aspect. 

Next, the Christian Symbol ; the four " beasts " iu 
the Apocalypse, with or without the angel-wings. 


Then the combination of the emblematical animal with 
the human form. 

Then the human personages, each of venerable or 
inspired aspect, as becomes the teacher and witness ; 
and each attended by the Scriptural emblem — no 
longer an emblem, but an attribute — marking his in- 
dividual vocation and character. 

And, lastly, the emblem and attribute boch dis- 
carded, we have the human being only, holding his 
Gospel, i. e. his version of the doctrine of Christ. 

St. Matthew. 

Lat. S. Mattheus. Ual. San Matteo. Fr. Saint Matthieu 
Ger. St. Matthaus. Sept. 21. 

St. Matthew among the Apostles takes the seventh 
or eighth place, but as an Evangelist he always stands 
first, because his Gospel was the earhest written. Very 
little is certainly known concerning him, his name oc- 
curring but once in his own Gospel, and in the other 
Gospels only incidentally with reference to two events. 

He was a Hebrew by birth ; by profession a pub- 
lican, or tax-gatherer, in the service of the Romans, — 
an office very lucrative, but particularly odious in the 
sight of his countrymen. His original name was Levi. 
It is recorded in few words, that as he sat at the receipt 
of custom by the lake of Gennesareth, Jesus, in passing 
by, saw him, and said unto him, " Follow me," and ha 
left all and followed him ; and further, that he made a 
feast in his house, at which many jiublicans and sinners 
sat down with the Lord and his disciples, to the great 
astonishment and scandal of the Jews. So far the 
sacred record : the traditional and legendary history 
of St. Matthew is equally scanty. It is related in the 
Perfetto Legendurio, that, after the dispersion of the 
apostles, he travelled into Egypt and Ethiopia, preach- 
ing the Gospel ; and having arrived in the capital of 
Ethiopia, he lodged in the house of the eunuch who 


had been baptized by Philip, and who entertained him 
with great honor. There were two terrible magicians 
at that time in Ethiopia, who by their diabolical spells 
and incantations kept all the people in subjection, 
afflicting them at the same time with strange and ter- 
rible diseases; but St. Matthew overcame them, and 
having baptized the people, they were delivered for- 
ever from the malignant influence of these enchanters. 
And further, it is related that St. Matthew raised the 
son of the King of Egypt from the dead, and healed 
his daughter of the leprosy. The princess, whose 
name was Iphigenia, he placed at the head of a com- 
munity of virgins dedicated to the service of God : and 
a certain wicked heathen king, having threatened to 
tear her from her asylum, was struck by leprosy, and 
his palace destroyefl by fire. St. Matthew remained 
twenty-three years in Egypt and Ethiopia, and it is 
said that he perished in the ninetieth year of our era, 
under Domitian ; but the manner of his death is un- 
certain; according to the Greek legend he died in 
peace, but according to the tradition of the Western 
Church he suffered martyrdom either by the sword or 
the spear. 

Few churches are dedicated to St. Matthew. I am 
not aware that he is the patron saint of any country, 
trade, or profession, unless it be that of tax-gatherer or 
exciseman ; and this is perliaps the reason that, except 
where he figures as one of the series of Evangelists or 
Apostles, he is so seldom represented alone, or in de- 
votional pictures. In a large altar-piece, the " San 
Matteo " of Annibal Caracci,* he is standing before 
the throne of the Madonna, as a pendant to John the 
Baptist, and gives his name to the picture : but such 
examples are uncommon. When he is portrayed as 
an evangelist, he holds a book or a pen ; and the 
angel, his proper attribute and attendant, stands by, 
pointing up to heaven, or dictating ; or he holds the 
jnkhorn, or he supports the book. In his character of 

* Dresden Gallery, No. 828. 


apostle, St. Matthew frequently holds a purse or money- 
bap:, as sig:niticant of his fonner vocation. 

Neither are pictures from his life of frequent occur- 
rence. The principal incident, entitled the " Calling 
of Matthew," has been occasionally, but not often, 
treated in painting. The motif \s simple, and not easily 
mistaken. St. Matthew is seated at a kind of desk 
with money before him ; various personages bring 
tribute; on one side is seen Christ, with one or two 
of his disciples, generally Peter and Andrew ; St. 
Matthew is either looking towards him with an ex- 
pression of awe-struck attention, or he is rising from 
his seat, as in the act to follow : the mere accessories 
and number of the personages vary with the period of 
the composition, and the taste of the painter. 

1. The earliest instance I can cite, probably the 
oldest which has come down to us, is in a Greek MS. 
of the ninth century.* St. Matthew sits with both 
hands on a heap of gold, lying on a table before him : 
he looks round at Christ, who is a little behind. 

2. St. Matthew is about to rise to follow the Sav- 
iour; by Matteo di Ser Cambio of Perugia, who has 
represented his patron saint in a small composition.! 

3. In the Queen's Gallery at Buckingham Palace, 
there is a very curious and interesting picture of this 
subject, by Mabuse, which once belonged to King 
Charles I., and is quaintly described in the old cata- 
logue of his pictures as " a very old, defaced, curious 
altar-piece, upon a thick board, where Christ is calling 
St. Matthew out of the custom-house ; which picture 
was got in Queen Elizabeth's days, in the taking of 
Calus Mains (Cadiz), in Spain. Painted upon a board 
in a gilded arched frame, like an altar-piece ; containing 
ten big figures, less than half so big as the life, and 
some twenty-two afar off less figures. Given to the 
King." In the foreground there is a rich achitectural 
porch, from which St. Matthew is issuing in haste, 

* Paris Bib. du Roi, No. 510. 

t A. D. 1377. Eng. in Rossini, pi. 24. 

ST. MATTHEW. i^r^ 

leaving his money-bags behind ; and in the background 
is seen the lake of Gennesareth and shipping. This 
picture was among the booty taken in Essex's expedi- 
tion against Cadiz in 1596, and probably stolen from 
some church. 

4. In the Vienna Gallery I found three pictures of 
the same subject, all by Hemessen, very quaint and 

5. At Dresden the same subject in the Venetian 
style by Pordenone. 

6. By Ludovico Caracci, a grand scenic picture, 
painted for the Mendicanti in Bologna. 

7. In a chapel of the church of San Luigi de' Fran- 
cesi, at Rome, there are three pictures by Caravaggio 
from the life of St. Matthew. Over tlie altar is the 
saint writing his Gospel ; he looks up at the attendant 
angel, who is behind, with outspread wings, and in the 
act of dictating. On the left is the calling of St. Mat- 
thew ; the saint, who has been counting money, rises 
with one hand on his breast, and turns to follow the 
Saviour : an old man, with spectacles on his nose, ex- 
amines with curiosity the personage whose summons 
has had sucli a miraculous effect : a boy is slyly ap- 
propriating the money which the apostle has thrown 
down. The tiiird picture is the martyrdom of the saint, 
who, in the sacerdotal habit, lies extended on a block, 
while a half-naked executioner raises the sword, and 
several spectators shrink back with horror. There is 
nothing dignified or poetical in these representations ; 
and though painted with all that power of effect which 
characterized Caravaggio, then at the height of his rep- 
utation, tliey have also his coarseness of feeling and 
execution : the priests were (not without reason) dis- 
satisfied ; and it required all the influence of his patron. 
Cardinal Giustiniani, to induce tiiem to retain the pic- 
tures in the church where we now see them ; — here 
we sympathize with the priests, rather than with the 
artist and his patron. 

The Feast which St. Matthew made for our Saviour 


and his disciples is the subject of one of Paul Vero- 
nese's gorgeous banquet scenes ; that which he painted 
for the refectory of the Convent of St. John and St. 
Paul at Venice. It is now in the Academy, filling up 
the end wall of one of the great rooms, fi'om side to 
side, and seeming to let in light and air through the 
lofty marble porticos, which give us such a magnificent 
idea of the splendor which surrounded Levi before he 
left all to follow Jesus. 

In all the representations of the death of St. Mat- 
thew, except those of the Greek or Byzantine school, 
he dies by the sword. The Greek artists uniformly 
exhibit him as dying ia peace, while an angel swings 
the censer beside his bed : as on the ancient doors of 
San Paolo at Rome. 

Pictures from the legendari' life of St. Matthew are 
very rare. The most remarkable arc the frescos in the 
chapel of San ]\Iatteo at Ravenna, attributed to Giotto. 
They are so much ruined that, of the eight subjects 
represented, only three — his vocation, his preaching 
and healing the sick in Ethiopia, and the baptism of 
the king and queen — can be made out. In the Bed- 
ford missal at Paris I found a miniature, representing 
St. Matthew "healing the son and daughter of King 
Egyptus of the leprosy " ; but, as a subject of ai-t, hb 
is not popular. 

St. Mark. 

Lat, S. Marcus. Hal. San Marco Evangelista. Fr. St. Marc. 
Ger. Der Heilige Marcus. April 25, a. d. 68. 

St. Mark the Evangelist was not one of the twelve 
Apostles : his conversion apparently took place after 
the ascension. He was the companion and assistant of 
Paul and Barnabas, with whom he preached the Gospel 
among the Gentiles. According to the traditions re- 
ceived in the Roman Church he was converted by St. 
Peter, and became his favorite disciple ; attended him 

ST. MARK. 147 

firet to Aquileia, where they converted and baptized 
the people on the sliores of the Adriatic, and thence to 
Rome. While there he wrote his Gospel for the use of 
the Roman converts, — some say from the dictation 
of the apostle. He afterwards, by command of St. 
Peter, went to preach the Gospel in Egypt ; and after 
preaching in Lybia and Thebais for twelve years, he 
founded the church of Alexandria, subsequently one of 
the most celebrated of all the early Christian churches. 
The ire of the heathen being stirred up against him 
because of his miracles, they reviled him as a magician, 
and, during the feast of their god Serapis, seized him 
while in the act of worship, bound liim, and dragged 
him along the streets and highways, and over stony 
and rocky places, till he perished miserably ; at the 
same time a dreadful tempest of hail and lightning fell 
upon his murderers, by which they were dispersed and 
destroyed. The Christians of Alexandria buried his 
mangled remains, and his sepulchre was regarded with 
great reverence for several centuries. About 815, a. d., 
some Venetian merchants trading to Alexandria earned 
off the relics (literally stole them, — " convey the wise 
it call!") and they were deposited in the city of Ven- 
ice, where the stately church of St. Mark was built 
over them. Since that time, St. Mark has been hon- 
ored as the patron saint of Venice, and his legendary 
history has supplied the Venetian painters with many 
beautiful and picturesque subjects. 

When St. Mark is represented as one of the four 
Evangelists, either singly or grouped with the others, 
he is almost invariably accompanied by the lion, winged 
or unwinged, but generally winged, — which distin- 
guishes him from St. Jerome, who is also accompanied 
by the lion, but unwinged, as we shall see hereafter. 

In devotional representations, St. Mark often wears 
the habit of bishop, as first bishop of Alexandria. He 
is thus represented in the colossal mosaic over the 
principal door of St. Mark's at Venice * in the pontifi- 

* Designed by Titian, and executed by F. Zuccatl. 


cals of a Greek bishop, no mitre, short <rray hair and 
beard ; one hand i-aised in benediction, the other hold- 
ing the Gospel. 

Of the innumerable pictures in wliioh St. Mark 
figures as patron of Venice, I can afford to give a few 
examples only. 

1 . A. Busati. He is seated on a throne ; an open 
book iu one hand, bearing inscribed the Venetian 
motto {"la Lecjgenda de' Veneti") Pax tibi, Marce, 
EvAXGELiSTA MEUS ; the other hand blessing: behind 
him a fig-tree, with leaves and no fruit ; probably in 
allusion to the text, ch. xi. 13, which is peculiar to St. 
Mark. On his right stands St. Andrew bearing a 
cross ; on the left St. Bernardino of Siena ; behind 
him the apple-tree which "brought death into the 
world and all our woe." This votive picture, from its 
mystical accessories and the introduction of St. Bernar- 
dino, was probably painted for the Franciscans (j Frari) 
of Venice. It is now in the Academy there. 

2. St. Mark on a lofty throne holds his Gospel in his 
hand ; at his feet the four saints who are protectors 
against sickness and pestilence, St. Sebastian, St. Roch, 
St. Cosmo, and St. Damian : a sj)lendid picture, in 
Titian's early manner.* 3. St. Mark plants the stand- 
ard of Venice, by Bonifazio. And 4. " San JNIaixo che 
assista all' coscrizione maritima " (i. e. the enlisting 
of the mariners for the service of the state), by G. 
del Moro, both curious instances of the manner in 
which the Venetians mixed up their patron saint with 
all their political and military transactions. 5. St. 
Mark presents the Doge Leonardo Dona to the A^'irgin ; 
the most remarkable of a numerous class of votive 
pictures, common in the Venetian school, in which St. 
Mark introduces either the Doge or some general or 
magnifico to the Virgin. t 

* It is so like Giorgione in sentiment and color that it has been 
attributed to him. 

t Beneath the monument of Nicolo Orsini in the SS. Giovanni-e 
Paolo at Venice. A very remarkable and beautiful picture o{ 

 ST. MARK. 149 

Among the devotional pictures of St. Marli, one of 
the most famous is that of Fra Bartolomeo, in the Pal- 
lazzo Pitti. He is represented as a man in the prime of 
life, with bushy hair, and a short reddish beard, throned 
in a niche, and holding in one hand the Gospel, in the 
other a pen ; the liou is omitted. The Frate painted 
this picture for his own convent of San Marco at Flor- 
ence. It is much lauded and celebrated, but the atti- 
tude appeared to me rather forced, and the features 
rather commonplace. 

The legend which describes St. Mark as the disciple 
and amanuensis of St. Peter has given occasion for 
those votive pictures in which they are represented to- 
gether. 1. In the treasury of St. Mark's is preserved 
a golden reliquary of a square form, containing, it is 
said, a fragment of the original Gospel in the hand- 
writing of St. Mark ; the chased cover represents St. 
Peter on a tlu'one, and before him kneels the Evange- 
list, writing from his dictation. 2. And again, in an 
ancient Greek Evangelarium,* St. Mark is seated, writ- 
ing ; St. Peter stands before him with his hand raised 
as dictating. .3. In a beautiful picture by Angelico da 
riesole,t St. Peter is in a pulpit preaching to the Ko- 
mans ; and Mark, seated, is taking down his words in 
a book. 4. St. Peter and St. Mark standing together, 
the former holding a book, the latter a pen, with an 
inkhorn suspended from his girdle, by Bellini ; f and, 
5. a similar one by Bonvicino, — very beautiful. § Such 
pictures are extremely interesting, showing the opinion 
generally entertained of the origin of St. Murk's Gos- 

Historical pictures from the legendary life of St. 
Mark abound in the Venetian school, but are not often 
found out of Venice. 

this class is in the Berlin Gallery (No. 316). St. Mark, enthroned 
and holding liis Gospel open on his knees, is instructing three of 
the Procuradori di San Marco, who kneel before him in their 
rich crimson dresses and listen reverently. 

* A'enice Ducal Palace. t Fl. Gal. 

t Venice Acad. \ Brera, Milan. 


St. Mark preaching the Gospel at Alexandria, by 
Gentil Bellini,* a very large composition with numer- 
ous figures, is on many accounts extremely curious. 
The painter, who had been at Constantinople, trans- 
ferred to Alexandria the Oriental scenery and costume 
with which he had become acquainted. The church 
of St. Euphemia at Alexandria, in the background, has 
the air of a Turkish mosque ; a crowd of persons, men 
and women, in the costume of the Turks, surround the 
saint, who is standing on a kind of pedestal or plat- 
form, ascended by a flight of steps, from which he ad- 
dresses his audience with great fervor. Gentil Bellini 
painted this picture for the Scuola di San Marco, at 

It is related that one day St. Mark, in his progress 
through the city of Alexandria, saw a poor cobbler, 
who had wounded his hand severely with his awl, so as 
to be incapacitated from gaining his bread. St. Mark 
healed the wound ; and the cobbler, whose name was 
Anianus, being converted and properly instructed, be- 
came a zealous Christian, and succeeded St. Mark as 
bishop of Alexandria. This miraculous cure of St. 
Anianus, and his subsequent baptism, are represented 
in two pictures by Mansueti.t In the Berlin Gallery is 
the cure of St. Anianus, by Cima da Conegliano ; a 
large composition with many figures. The cure and 
baptism of St. Anianus, represented as a very aged 
man, form the subjects of two fine bas-reliefs on the 
fa9ade of the School of St. Mark, by Tullio Lombardo, 
A. D. 1502. 

In the Martyrdom of St. Mark, he is dragged through 
the streets by the enraged populace, who haul him 
along by a rope ; a storm from above overwhelms the 
idolaters. The subject is thus represented by Angelico 
da riesole.t 

* Brera, Milan. 

t A. D. 1500. Scuola di S. Marco, Venice. 

I Fl. Gal. 

ST. HARK. 151 

A famous legend of St. Mark, which has been the 
subject of several pictures, can only be worthily given 
in the language of the old Venetian chronicle. There 
is something perfectly charming in the picturesque 
naivete and matter-of-fact detail with which this wild 
and wonderful story is related ; and if you, reader, 
have ever stood on the steps of the Piazzetta and 
looked over to San Giorgio, or San Niccolo, when the 
waves of the Lagune were foaming and driving up to 
your feet, and storm-clouds stooping and lowering 
seemed to touch the very domes and campanile around, 
then you will have the whole scene as a reality before 

On the 25th of February, 1340, there fell out a won- 
derful thing in this land ; for during three days the 
waters rose continually, and in the night there was 
fearful rain and tempest, such as had never been heard 
of So great was the storm that the waters rose three 
cubits higher than had ever been known in Venice ; 
and an old fisherman, being in his little boat in the 
canal of St. Mark, reached with difRculty the Eiva di 
San Marco, and there he fastened his boat, and waited 
the ceasing of the storm. And it is related that, at the 
time this storm was at the highest, there came an un- 
known man, and besought him that he would row him 
over to San Giorgio Maggiore, promising to pay him 
well ; and the fisherman replied, ' How is it possible to 
go to San Giorgio ? we shall sink by the way 1 ' But 
the man only besought him the more that he should set 
forth. So, seeing that it was the will of God, he arose 
and rowed over to San Giorgio IVIaggiore ; and the man 
landed there, and desired the boatman to wait. In a 
short while he returned with a young man ; and they 
said, ' Now row towards San Niccolo di Lido.' And 
the fisherman said, ' How can one possibly go so far 
with one oar?' And they said, 'Row boldly, for it 
shall be possible to thee, and thou shalt be well paid.' 
And he went ; and it appeared to him as if the waters 
were smooth. Being arrived at San Niccolo di Lido, 


the two men landed, and returned witli a third, and, 
having entered into the boat, tliey commanded the fisli- 
erman that he should row bej'ond the two castles. And 
the tempest raged continually. Being come to the open 
sea, they beheld approaching, with such terrific speed 
that it appeared to fly over the waters, an enormous 
galley full of demons (as it is written in the Chronicles, 
and Marco Sabellino also makes mention of this mira- 
cle) : the said bark approached the castles to overwhelm 
Venice, and to destroy it utterly ; anon the sea, which 
had hitherto been tumultuous, became calm ; and these 
three men, having made the sign of the cross, exorcised 
the demons, and commanded them to depart, and im- 
mediately the galley or the ship vanished. Then these 
three men commanded the fisherman to land them, the 
one at San Niccolb di Lido, the other at San Giorgio 
Maggiore, and the third at San Marco. And when he 
had landed the third, the fisherman, notwithstanding 
the miracle he had witnessed, desired that he would pay 
him ; and he replied, ' Thou art right ; go now to the 
Doge, and to the Procuratore of St. Mark, and tell 
them what thou hast seen, for Venice would have been 
.overwhelmed had it not been for us three. I am St. 
Mark the Evangelist, the protector of this city ; the 
other is the brave knight St. George ; and he whom 
thou didst take up at the Lido is the holy bishop St. 
Nicholas. Say to the Doge and to the Procuratori* 
that they are to pay you ; and tell them likewise that 
this tempest arose because of a certain schoolmaster 
dwelling at San Felice, Avho did sell his soul to the 
Devil, and afterwards hanged himself.' And the fish- 
erman replied, ' If I should tell them this, they will not 
believe me.' Then St. Mark took off a ring which 
was on his finger, which ring was worth five ducats ; 
and he said, ' Show them this, and tell them when they 
look in the sanctuary they will not find it ' : and there- 

* The Procuratori had the charge of the church and the trea* 
ury of St. Mark. 

ST. MARK. 153 

upon he disappeai-ed. The next morning, the said 
fisherman presented himself before the Doge, and re- 
lated all he had seen the night before, and showed him 
the ring for a sign. And the Procuratori having sent 
for the ring, and sought in the usual place, found it 
not ; by reason of wiiieh miracle the fisherman was 
paid, and a solemn procession was ordained, giving 
thanks to God, and to the relics of the three holy 
saints, who rest in our land, and who delivered us from 
this great danger. The ring was given to Signor 
Marco Loredano and to Signor Andrea Dandolo the 
Procuratori, who placed it in the sanctuary ; and, 
moreover, a perpetual provision was made for the aged 
fisherman above mentioned." * 

This legend is the subject of two celebrated pictures. 
The first attributed to Giorgione,t represents the storm. 
A ship, manned by demons, is seen towering over the 
waves : the demons appear to be seized with consterna- 
tion ; some fling themselves headlong over the side of 
their vessel, others are chnging to the rigging, others 
sit on the masts, which flame with fire, and the glare is 
seen over the murky sky and sea. More in front are 
two barks, one rowed by four satyr-like demons, splen- 
did figures, admirably painted, literally glowing as if 
they were red-hot, and full of fierce animation. In the 
other bark are seen the three saints, St. Mark, St. Nich- 
olas, and St. George, rowed by the fisherman ; sea- 
monsters are sporting amid the waves, demons bestride 
them ; the city of Venice is just visible in the far-off 
distance. Tiie whole picture is full of vigor and poetic 
feeling ; the fiery gfow of color and the romantic style 
of Giorgione suited the subject ; and it has been ad- 
mirably restored. 

The second picture is by Paris Bordone,t and repre- 
sents the fisherman presenting the miraculous ring of 
St. Mark to the Doge Gradenigo. It is like a grand 
piece of scenic decoration ; we have before us a mag- 

* Sanuto, Vite de' Duci VenetL 

t Acad. Venice. J Ibid. 


nificent marble hall, with columns and buildings in 
perspective ; to the right, on the summit of a flight of 
steps, sits the Doge in council ; the poor fisherman, 
ascending the steps, holds forth the ring. The numer- 
ous figures, the vivid color, the luxuriant architecture, 
remind us of Paul Veronese, with, however, more deli- 
cacy, both in color and execution. 

A Christian slave, in the service of a certain noble- 
man of Provence, disobeyed the commands of his lord, 
and persisted in paying his devotions at the shrine of 
St. Mark, which was at some distance. On his return 
home, he was condemned to the torture. As it was 
about to be inflicted, the saint himself descended from 
heaven to aid his votary ; the instruments of torture 
were broken or blunted, the oppressor and his execu- 
tioners confounded. This legend is the subject of a 
celebrated picture by Tintoretto,* of which Mr. Eogers 
had the original sketch. The slave lies on the ground 
amid a crowd of spectators, who look on, animated by 
all the various emotions of sympathy, rage, terror ; a 
woman in front, with a child in her arms, has always 
been admired for the life-like vivacity of her attitude 
and expression. The executioner holds up the broken 
implements ; St. Mark, with a headlong movement, 
seems to rush down from heaven in haste to save his 
worshipper ; the dramatic grouping in this picture is 
wonderful ; the coloring, in its gorgeous depth and 
harmony, is, in Mr. Rogers's sketch, finer than in the 

In St. Mark's, at Venice, we find the whole history 
of St. Mark on the vault of the Cappella Zen (opening 
from the Baptistery), in a series of very curiou? mo- 
saics of the twelfth centuiy. The translation of the 
body of St. Mark ; the carrying off the relics from 
Alexandria ; their arrival in Venice ; the grand relig- 
ious ceremonies which took place on their an-ival ; are 

* Acad. Venice. 



also represented in the mosaics over the portico of St^ 
Mark's, executed chiefly between 1650 ^d 1680. We 
have the same legend in two compositions of Tinto- 
retto * : in the first, tlie i-emains of St. Mark are taken 
forcibly from the tomb by the Venetian mariners ; in 
the other, they are borne away to sea in a night-storm, 
while in the air is seen hovering a bright transparent 
form, — the soul of the saint iiitting with his body to 

St. Luke. 
Lat. Sanctus Luca. Ital. San Luca. Fr. Saint Luc. Oct. 18. 

Of the real history of St. Luke we know very little. 
He was not an apostle ; and, like St. INIark, appears to 
have been converted after the Ascension. He was a 
beloved disciple of St. Paul, whom he accompanied to 
Rome, and remained with his master and teacher till 
the last. It is related, tliat, after the mart_vrdom of 
St. Peter and St. Paul, he preached the Gospel in 
Greece and Egypt ; but whether he died a natural 
death, or suffered martyrdom, does not seem clear. 
The Greek traditions represent him as dying in peace, 
and his death was thus figured on the ancient doors of 
San Paolo at Rome. Others affirm that he was cruci- 
fied at Patras with St. Andrew. 

There is some ground for the supposition that Luke 
was a physician. (Col. iv. 14.) But the ])retty legend 
which makes him a painter, and represents him as 
painting the portrait of the Virgin Mary, is unsup- 
ported by any of the earlier traditions. It is of Greek 
origin, still universally received by the Greek Church, 
which considers painting a religious art, and numbers 
in its calendar of saints a long list of painters, as well 
as poets, musicians, and physicians. " Les Grecs," 
says Didron, " semblent avoir canonise des Chre'tiens 
nniquement parcequ'ils s'occupaient de soulager le corps 

* Venice, Ducal Palace. 


Du de charmer I'esprit." In the west of Europe, the 
legend which i^presents St. Luke as a painter can be 
traced no higlier than the tenth century ; the Greek 
painters introduced it ; and a rude drawing of the 
Virgin discovered in the catacombs, with an inscrip- 
tion purporting that it was " one of seven painted by 
Luca," confirmed the popular belief that St. Luke the 
Evangelist was meant. Thus originated the fame of 
innumerable Virgins of peculiar sanctity, all attributed 
to his hand, and regarded with extreme veneration. 
Such ancient pictures are generally of Greek work- 
manship, and of a black complexion.* In the legend 
of St. Luke we are assured that he carried with him 
everywhere two portraits, painted by himself; one of 
our Saviour, and one of the Virgin ; and that by 
means of these he converted many of the heathen, for 
not only did they perform great miracles, but all who 
looked on these bright and benign faces, which bore a 
striking resemblance to each other, were moved to ad- 
miration and devotion. It is also said, that St. Luke 
painted many portraits of the Virgin, delighting him- 
self by repeating tliis gracious image ; and in tlie 
church of Santa Maria, in Via Lata, at Rome, they 
still show a little chapel in which, " as it hath been 
handed down from the first ages, St. Luke the Evan- 

* The little black A'irgin of the Monte della Guardia, near Bo- 
logna, I saw carried in grand procession through the streets of 
that city, in May, 1847. The following inscription is engraved on 
a tablet in the church of San Domenico and San Sisto at Kome : 
" Here at the high altar is preserved that image of the most 
blessed Mary, which, being delineated by St. Luke the Evangelist, 
received its colors and form divinely. This is that image with 
which St. Gregory the Great (according to St. Antonine), as a 
suppliant, purified Rome ; and the pestilence being dispelled, 
the angel messenger of peace, from the summit of the castle of 
Adrian, commanding the Queen of Heaven to rejoice, restored 
health to the city." A A'irgin in the Ara Coeli pretends to the 
same honor : both these are black and ugly, while that in the S. 
Maria in Cosmedino is of uncommon dignity and beauty. See 
"Legends of the Madonna." 



gelist wrote, and painted the effigy of the Virgin- 
mother of God." 

On the strength of this tradition, St. Luke has been 
chosen as the patron saint of painters. Academies of 
art are placed under liis particular protection ; their 
chapels are dedicated to him, and over the altar we see 
him in his charming and pious avocation, that of paint- 
ing portraits of the Blessed Virgin for the consolation 
of the foithful. 

The devoiional figures of St. Luke, in his character 
of evangelist, represent hira in general with his Gospel 
and his attendant ox, winged or unwinged, as already 
described ; but in Greek Art, and in those schools of 
Art which have been particularly under the Byzantine 
influence (as the early Venetian), we see St. Luke as 
evangelist, young and beardless, holding the portrait of 
the Virgin as his attribute in one hand, and his Gospel 
in the other. A beautiful figure of St. Luke as evan- 
gelist and painter is in the famous " Heures d'Auue de 
Bretagne." * 

In an engraving by Lucas v. Leyden, executed as it 
should seem in honor of his patron saint, St. Luke is 
seated on the back of his ox, writing the Gospel ; he 
wears a hood like an old professor, rests his book 
against the horns of the animal, and his inkstand is 
suspended on the bough of a tree. But separate devo- 
tional figures of him as patron are as rare as those of 
St. Matthew. 

St. Luke painting the Virgin has been a frequent 
and favorite subject. The most famous of all is a pic- 
ture in the Academy of St. Luke, at Rome, ascribed 
to Raphael. Here St. Luke, kneeling on a footstool 
before an easel, is busied painting the Virgin with the 
child in her arms, who appears to him out of heaven, 
sustained by clouds : behind St. Luke stands Raphael 
himself looking on. Another of tiie same subject, a 
very small and beautiful picture, also ascribed to Ra- 
phael, is in the Grosvenor Gallery. In neither of 

* MS. A. D. 1500, Paris, Bib. Imp. 


these pictures is the treatment quite worthy of that 
great painter, wanting his delicacy both of sentiment 
and execution. There is a most curious and quaint 
example in the Muuicli Gallery, attributed to Van 
Eyck : here the Vir<^in, seated under a rich Gothic 
canopy, holds on her lap the Infant Christ, in a most 
stiff attitude ; St. Luke, kneeling on one knee, is taking 
her likeness. There is another, similar in style, by 
Aldegraef, in the Vienna Gallery. Carlo Maratti rep- 
resents St. Luke as presenting to the Virgin the picture 
he has painted of her. St. Luke painting the Ma- 
donna and Child, while an angel is grinding his colors, 
I remember in the Aguado Gallery ; a late Spanish 

St. John. 

tot. Sanctus Johannes. Gr. St. John Theologos, or the Di^'ine. 
Hal. Sau Giovanni Evangelista. Fr. Saint Jean; Messire Saint 
Jehan. Ger. Der Ueilige Johan. Dec. 27, A. D. 99, 

Of St. Matthew, St. Mark, and St. Luke, so little 
is certainly known that we have no data on which to 
found an individual portrait; therefore any representa- 
tion of them as venerable and inspired teachers suffices 
to the fancy; but it is quite otherwise with St. John, 
the most distinguished of the Evangelists, and the most 
beloved of the disciples of our Lord. Of him sufficient 
is known to convey a distinct impression of his personal 
character, and an idea of wliat his personal appearance 
may have been, supposing this outward semblance to 
have harmonized with the inward being. 

He was tlie son of the fisherman Zebedee, and, with 
his brother James, among the first followers of the Sav- 
iour. He is emphatically called "the disciple whom 
Jesus loved" ; a preference which he merited, not Cily 
from the extreme purity of his life and characi^'- '■"'t 
from his devoted and affectionate nature. He appe**^ 

* F. Rizi, A. D. 1660. 

ST. JOHN. I- 5 

to have ^een at all times the constant companion of his 
divine Lord ; and his life, wiiile the Saviour was on 
earth, inseparable from His. In all the memorable cir- 
cumstances recorded in the Gospel he was a party, or 
at least present. He witnessed the glory of the trans- 
figuration ; he leaned on the bosom of Jesus at the last 
supper ; he stood by the cross in the hour of agony ; 
he laid the body of his crucified Master in the sepul- 
chre. After the death of the Virgin Mother, who had 
been confided to his care, he went about Judtea, preach- 
ing the Gospel with St. Peter. He then travelled into 
Asia Minor, where he founded the Seven Churches, and 
resided principally at Ephesus. During the persecu- 
tion of the Christians under Domitian, St. John was 
sent in fetters to Rome ; and, according to a tradition 
generally received in the Roman Church, he was cast 
into a caldron of boihng oil, but was miraculously 
preserved, and " came out of it as out of a refreshing 
bath." He was then accused of magic, and exiled to 
the island of Patmos, in the ^Egean Sea, where he is 
said to have written his Revelations. After the death 
of the Emperor Domitian he was released, and returned 
to his church at Ephesus ; and for the use of the Chris- 
tians there he is said to have written his Gospel, at the 
age of ninety. A few years aftenvards he died in that 
city, being nearly a century old. All the incidents here 
touched upon occur frequently as subjects of art, but 
most of them belong properly to the life of Christ. 

The personal character of St. John, at once attrac- 
tive and picturesque, has rendered him popular as a 
patron saint, and devotional pictures of him are far 
more numerous than of any of the other Evangelists. 

He is represented in one of his three characters : 1. 
as evangelist ; 2. as apostle ; 3. as prophet ; or the 
three are combined in one figure. 

1. Of the early eagle symbol, I have spoken at 

In Greek Art, whether as apostle or evangelist, St. 


John is ahvays an aged man with white hair, and a 
venerable beard descending to his hreast ; and by the 
earlier Latin painters, where he figures as evangelist 
only, not as apostle, this type has been adhered to ; but 
the later painters set it aside, and St. John the Evan- 
gelist, nearly a century old, has all the attributes of the 
youthful ai)Ostle. He is beardless, with light curling 
hair, and eyes gazing upwards in a rapture of inspira- 
tion : he is sometimes seated with his pen and his book, 
sometimes standing; the attendant eagle always near 
him, and frequently holding the pen or inkhorn in his 

In some of the old prints and pictures, which repre- 
sent St. John as writing the Gospel, his eyes are turned 
on the Virgin with the Infant Christ in her arms, wlio 
appear as a vision in the skies above ; underneath, 
or on his book, is inscribed, " The Word was made 
flesh," or some other text of the same import. The 
eagle at his side has sometimes tlie nimbus, or a crown 
of stars,* and is then perhaps intended to figure the 
Holy Ghost. 

I remember an instance in which the Devil, intent on 
intercepting the message of reconcilement and "good- 
will towards men,'' wiiich was destined to destroy his 
empire on earth, appears behind St. John, and is over- 
setting the ink upon the pages ; another, in which he is 
stealing away the inkhorn. 

2. As one of the series of apostles, St. John is al- 
ways, in Western Art, young, or in the prime of life ; 
with little or no beard ; flowing or curling hair, gener- 
ally of a pale brown or golden hue, to express the del- 
icacy of his nature ; and in his countenance an expres- 
sion of benignity and candor. His drapery is, or ought 
to be, red, with a blue or green tunic. He bears in his 
hand the sacramental cup, from which a serpent is seen 
to issue. St. Isidore relates that, at Rome, an attempt 
was made to poison St. John in the cup of the sacra- 
ment : he drank of the same and administered it to the 

* As in the Missal of Henry VIII., Bodleian. Oxford. 

ST. JOHN. ^ i6i 

communicants without injury, the poison having by a 
miracle issued from the cup in the form of a serpent, 
while the hired assassin fell down dead at his feet. Ac- 
cording to anotlier version of this story, the poisoned 
cup was administered by order of the Emperor Domi- 
tian. According to a tiiird version, Aristodcmus, the 
high-priest of Diana, at Ephesus, defied him to drink 
of the poisoned chalice, as a test of the truth of his 
mission. St. John drank unharmed, — the priest fell 
dead. Others say, and this seems the more probable 
interpretation, that the cup in the hand of St. John al- 
ludes to the reply given by our Saviour, when the 
mother of James and John requested for her sons the 
place of honor in heaven, — " Ye shall drink indeed of 
my cup." As in other instances, the legend was in- 
vented to explain the symbol. "When the cup has the 
consecrated wafer instead of the serpent, it signifies the 
institution of the Eucharist. 

Some of the old German representations of St. John 
are of singular beauty : for example, one by Hans 
Hemling, one by Isaac von Melem* standing figures ; 
simple, graceful, majestic ; in the prime of youth, with 
a charming expression of devotion in the heads : both 
hold the sacramental cup with the serpent ; no eagle ; 
therefore St. John is here to be considered as the apos- 
tle only : when, with the cup, the eagle is placed by his 
side, be is represented in the double character of apostle 
and evangelist. 

In the early Siena school, and in some old illumina- 
tions, I have seen St. John carrying in his hand a ra- 
diant circle, inscribed " In prima est verbum," and within 
the circle an eagle with outspread wings : but this is 

3. St. John as the prophet, the writer of the Revela- 
tions, is usually an aged man, with a white flowing 
beard, seated in a rocky desert ; the sea in the distance, 

* Both among the fine lithographs of the Boisseree Gallery. 
1 1 


or flowing round him, to represent the island of Pat- 
mos ; the eagle at his side. In the old frescos, and the 
illuminated MSS. of the Apocalypse, this is the usual 

Some examples of the ideal and devotional figures 
of St. John, as evangelist and prophet, will give an 
idea of the variety of treatment in this favorite sub- 
ject : — 

1. Ancient Greek. St. John, with the head of an 
eagle and large wings, the figure fully draped, is soar- 
ing upwards. In such representations the inscription 
is usually. Quasi aquila ascendet et avolabit, " Behold, 
he shall come up and fly as the eagle." (Jer. xlix. 22.) 

2. Perugino. St. John as an aged man, with long 
gray beard and flowing hair, attended by a black eagle, 
looking up at the Madonna in glory.* 

3. Raphael (?). St. John, young and beautiful, 
mounted on the back of an eagle, and soaring heaven- 
wards : in one hand he holds a tablet, in the other a 
pen : sea and land below. This treatment, which re- 
calls the antique Jupiter bestriding his eagle, appears 
to me at once too theatrical and too commonplace for 

4. Correggio. St. John seated w^riting his Gospel ; 
the eagle at his feet is pluming his wing : inscribed 
" Aldus cceteris Dei patefecit arcana." One of the series 
of Evangelists in the Duomo of Parma, — wonderfully 

5. Domenichino. St. John, full length, life size; 
young and beautiful, in an ecstasy of inspiration, and 
sustained by two angels ; the eagle at his feet : for- 
merly in the Giustiniani Gallery ; J — finer, I think, 
than the St. John in Sant' Andrea. Another, half 
length, a scroll in his hand, looking upwards as one to 
whom the glory of the heavens had beea opened ; — 
you see it reflected in his eyes, — while love, wonder, 

* Acad. Bologna. t Alusee, Marseilles. 

\ Leigh Court, Gal. of Mr. Miles. 

ST. JOHN: 163 

devotion, beam from his beautiful face and parted lips : 
behind him hovers the attendant eagle, holding the pen 
in his beak ; neai* him is the chalice, with the serpent ; 
so that here he is in his double character of apostle 
and evangelist.* Domenichino excelled in St. Johns, 
as Guido in Magdalenes ; perhaps the most beautiful 
of all is that in the Brera, at Milan, where St. John 
bends on one knee at the foot of the throne of the 
Madonna and Child, his pen in one hand, the other 
pressed to his bosom, and looking up to them with an 
air of ecstatic inspiration. Two httle angels, or rather 
amoretti, are in attendance : one has his arms round 
the neck of the eagle, sporting with it ; the other holds 
up the cup and the serpent. Every detail is com- 
posed and painted to admiration ; but this is the 
artistic and picturesque, not the religious, version of 
the subject. 

St. John is frequently represented with St. Peter, 
because, after the ascension, they taught and acted in 
concert. In such pictures, the contrast between the 
fiery resolve and sturdy, rugged grandeur which is 
given to St. Peter, and the refinement, mildness, and 
personal grace of St. John, produces a fine effect : as 
in Albert Diirer's picture, t where John is holding 
open the Gos])el, and Peter apparently reading it ; 
two grand and simple figures, filling the mind as we 
gaze upon them. As this picture was painted afier 
Albert Diirer became a Protestant, I have thought it 
possible that he might have had some particular mean- 
ing in thus making Peter study the Gospel of John. 
At all events, Albert Diirer was quite capable of such 
an intention ; and, whether intended or not, the picture 
may be, and has been, thus interpreted. The prophets 
and the poets often say more than they intended, for 
their light was for others more than for themselves : so 
also the great painters, — the Raphaels and Albert Dii- 
rers, — prophets and poets in their way. When I have 

* Petersburg, Gal. of Prince Narishken. Eng. by Muller. 
t Munich Gal. 


heard certain critics ridiculed because they found more 
in the productions of a Sliakespeare or a Rapliael than 
the poet or painter himself ever perceived or " in- 
tended," such ridicule has appeared to me in the high- 
est degree presumptuous and absurd. The true artist 
" feels that he is greater than he knows." In giving 
form or utterance to the soul within him, does he ac- 
count to himself for all the world of thoughts his work 
will excite in the niiuds of others ? Is its significance 
to be circumscribed either by the intention and the 
knowledge of the poet, or the comprehension of the 
age in which he lived 1 That is the characteristic of 
the second-rate, self-conscious poets or painters, whom 
we read or study because they I'etiect to us a particular 
meaning, — a particular period, — but not of tlie Ho- 
mers and Shakespeares, the Raphaels and Albert Dii- 
rers ; they speak to all times, to all men, with a 
suggestive significance, widening, deepening with every 
successive generation ; and to measure their depth of 
meaning by their own intention, or by the comprehen- 
sion of their own or any one generation, what is it but 
to measure the star of heaven by its apparent magni- 
tude 1 — an inch rule will do that ! 

But to return from this digression. In devotional 
pictures we often see St. John the Evangelist and St. 
John the Baptist standing together ; or on each side 
of Christ, or of the Madonna and Child. There is a 
peculiar propriety and significance in this companion- 
ship : both ai-e, then, to be considered as prophets ; 
they were, besides, kinsmen, and bore the same name ; 
and St. John the Evangelist was the disciple of John 
the Baptist before he was called by Christ. Here, 
again, the contrast between the dark, emaciated, hairy 
prophet of the wilderness, and the graceful dignity of 
the youthful apostle, has a striking effect. An example 
at liand is the bronze bas-relief on the tomb of Henry 
VII.* Madonna pictures, in which the two St. Johns 
stand before her throne, occur frequently. I remem- 

* Westmin. Abbey. 

ST. JOHN. 165 

ber, also, a marble group of the Virgin and C'nild, in 
which the two St. Johns, as infants, are playing at her 
feet, ©ne with his eagle, the other with his reed cross.* 
As one who bore the most direct testimony to the 
Incarnation, St. John is often introduced into ^ladonna 
pictures, and pictures of the Nativity ; but in the later 
schools only. In these instances he points signiticantly 
to the Child, and the sacramental cup and wafer is 
either in his hand or at his feet, or borne by an angel. 

The historical and dramatic subjects in which St 
John figures as a principal personage are very numer- 
ous. As the Scriptural scenes belong jiroperly to the 
life of Christ, I shall confine myself here to some ob- 
servations on the manner in which St. John is intro- 
duced and treated in such pictures. In general he is 
to be distinguished from the other apostles by his youth 
and beauty, and flowing hair ; and by being placed 
nearest to Christ as the most beloved of his disciples. 

" The mother of James and John imploring from 
our Saviour the highest place in heaven for her two 
sons" (Matt. xx. 21): a picture by Bonifazio, in 
the Borghese Gallery, beautiful both in sentiment and 
color. There is another example by Paul Veronese ; 
and another, by Tintoretto, was in the Coesvelt Gal- 
lery. I must observe that, except in Venetian pic- 
tures, I have not met with this incident as a separate 

In the last supper, Peter is generally on the right 
of Christ, and St. John on the left : he leans his head 
down on the bosom of Christ (this is always the atti- 
tude in the oldest pictures) ; or he leans towards Christ, 
who places his hand upon his shoulder, drawing him 
towards him with an expression of tenderness : this is 
the action in the fresco by Raphael lately discovered at 
Florence. But I must reserve the full consideration 
of this subject for another place. 

Where, instead of the last supper, our Saviour is 

* Rome, S. Maria-sopra-Minerva. 


represented as administering the Eucharist, St. John 
is seen on his right hand, bearing the cup. 

In tlie crucifixion, when treated as a religious rather 
than an historical subject, St. John stands on the left 
of the Cross, and the Virgin on the right ; both in 
attitudes of the profoundest grief and adoration min- 
gled. In general the motif oi this sacred subject does 
not vary ; but I remember examples in which St. 
John is seen trampling a Jew under his feet ; on the 
other side the Virgin tramples on a veiled woman, sig- 
nifying the old law, the synagogue, as opposed to the 
Christian Church, of which the Virgin was the received 

When the crucifixion is a scene or action, not a mys- 
tery, then St. John is beheld afar off, with the women 
who followed their divine Master to Calvary. 

St. John and the Virgin Mary returning from the 
crucifixion : he appears to be sustaining her slow and 
fainting steps. I have only once met with this beau- 
tiful subject, in a picture by Zurbaran, in the Munich 

In the descent from the Cross, St. John is a chief 
actor ; he generally sustains the head of the Saviour, 
and is distinguished by an expi-ession of extreme sor- 
row and tenderness. In the entombment he is some- 
times one of the bearers, sometimes he follows lament- 
ing. In a print of the entombment after Andrea 
Mantegna, he is not only weeping and wringing his 
hands as usual, but absolutely crying aloud with the 
most exaggerated expression of anguish. In pictures 
of the descent of the Holy Ghost, St. John is usually a 
conspicuous figure, and in the foreground. In the as- 
sumption of the Virgin, he is also conspicuous, gener- 
ally in front, as the pendant to St. Peter, and gazing 
upwards with ecstatic faith and devotion. 

Of course there is great variety in these represen- 
tations : the later painters thought less of individual 
character and significant propriety of arrangement than 
of artistic grouping ; therefore the above remarks have 
reference to the early painters only. 

ST. JOEN. 167 

In the sceTies taken from the Acts, St. John is al- 
ways in companionship with St. Peter, and becomes 
the secondary figure. 

St. John writing- his Ecvelations in the Island of 
Patmos is a subject which frequently occurs in MSS. 
of the Apocalypse, and in the chapels dedicated to St. 
John. The motif is generally the same in all ; we 
have a desert island, with the sea in the distance, or 
flowing round it ; St. John, seated on a rock or under 
a tree, is in the act of writing ; or he is looking up to 
heaven, where the " Woman crowned with stars," or 
" the Woman fleeing from the dragon," appears as in 
his vision.* (Rev. xii.) Or he beholds St. Michael, 
armed, cast down the dragon in human form ; he lias 
the eagle and book, and looks up at the Virgin, as in 
a picture by Ambrogio Figino.t The eagle is always 
in attendance as the symbol of inspiration in a general 
sense ; when represented with a diadem, or glory, as 
in some very early examples, it is a symbol of the 
Holy Ghost, which, among the Jews, was figured by 
the eagle. 

The subjects from the legendary life of St. John are 
exceedingly interesting, but they are not easily recog- 
nized, and require particular attention ; some are of 
frequent occurrence, others rarely met with. 

1. Israel v. Meckenen. St. John instructing his 
disciples at Ephesus. (Acts iv. 37.) The scene is 
the interior of a Gothic church, the windows painted 
with heraldic emblazonments : St. John is seated ex- 
pounding the Scriptures, and five disciples sit opposite 
to him with coarse, ugly faces, but most intent, expres- 
sive countenances ; in the background, a large chest 
full of money. 

2. Vatican, Chr. Mus. St. John drinking from the 
poisoned chalice ; a man falls down dead at his feet, 
several figures look on with awe and astonishment: 
this is a frequent subject in the elder schools of art, 
and in the illuminated MSS. of the Gospel and Apoc. 

* V. " Legends of the Madonna." f Brera, Milan. 


alypse : but I have never met with a representation 
later than the beginning of the fourteenth century.* 

3. It is related by Clement of Alexandria, tliat when 
St. John was at Ephcsus, and before he was exiled to 
Patmos, he had taken to his care a young man of 
promising qualities of person and mind. During his 
absence he left him under the spiritual guidance of a 
certain bishop ; but, after a while, the youth took to 
evil courses, and, proceeding from one excess to an- 
other, lie at length became the leader of a band of 
robbers and assassins, who struck terror into the whole 
country. When St. John returned to Ephesus, he 
went to the bishop and demanded "the precious de- 
posit he had left in his hands." At first the priest did 
not understand him ; but wlien St. John explained the 
allusion to his adopted son, he cast down his eyes with 
sorrow and shame, and told of wliat liad befallen. 
Then St. John rent his garments, and wept with a 
loud voice, and cried out, " Alas ! alas ! to what a 
guardian have I trusted our brotlier ! " And he called 
for a horse and rode towards the forest in which the 
robbers sojourned ; and when the captain of the rob- 
bers beheld his old master and instructor, he turned 
and would have fled from his presence ; but St. John, 
by the most fervent entreaties, jirevailed on him to 
stop and listen to his words. After some conference, 
the robber, utterly subdued, burst into tears of peni- 
tence, imploring forgiveness; and while he spoke, 'he 
liid beneath his robe liis right hand, which had been 
sullied with so many crimes ; but St. John, falling on 
his knees before him, seized that blood-polluted hand, 
and kissed it, and bathed it with his tears ; and he 
remained with his rc-convertcd brother till he had, by 
prayers and encouraging words and atlectionate ex- 

* We find among the relics exhibited on great occasions in the 
church of the S. Croce at Rome "the cup in which St. John, the 
apostle and evangelist, by command of Doraitian the emperor, 
drank poison without receiving any injury ; which afterwards 
being tasted by his attendants, on the instant they fell dead." 

ST. JOHN. 169 

hortations, reconciled him with Heaven and with him- 

This beautiful legend is the subject of some old en- 
gravings, in wliich St. John is represented embracing 
the robber, who is weeping on his neck, having flung 
away his weapons. It has been, however, too rarely 
treated ; I have never met with a picture of the sub- 
ject ; and yet it aliounds in picturesque capabilities : 
the forest background, — the contrast of youtfi and age, 
— bright armor, flowing drapery, and the most strik- 
ing and affecting moral, are here all combined. 

4. Another very pretty apologue relating to St. John 
is sometimes included in a series of subjects fi»om liis 
life. Two young men, who had sold all their posses- 
sions to follow him, afterwards repented. He, perceiv- 
ing their thoughts, sent them to gather pebbles and 
fagots, and, on their return, changed these into money 
and ingots of gold, saying to them, " Take back your 
riches and enjoy them on eartli, as you regret having 
exchanged them for heaven ! " This storv is repre- 
sented on one of the windows of the Cathedral at 
Bourges. The two young men stand before St. John, 
with a heap of gold on one side, and a heap of stones 
and fagots on the other. 

5. When St. John had sojourned in the island of 
Patmos a year and a day, he returned to his church at 
Ephesus ; and as he approached the city, being re- 
ceived with great joy by the inhabitants, lo ! a funeral 
procession came forth from tlie gates ; and of those 
who followed weeping he inquired " who was dead ? " 
They said " Drusiana." Now when he lieard that 
name he was sad, for Drusiana had excelled in all 
good works, and he had formerly dwelt in her house , 
and he ordered them to set down the bier, and having 
prayed earnestly, God was pleased to restore Drusiana 
to life ; she arose up, and the apostle went home with 
her and dwelt in her liouse. 

This incident is the subject of a fine fresco, painted 
by Filippo Lippi, on the left-hand wall of the Stroiizi 


Chapel at Florence. It has the forcible expression and 
dramatic spirit of the painter, with that characteristic 
want of elevated feelinjr in the countenances and in the 
general treatment which is apparent in all his works ■. 
the group in one corner, of a child starting from a dog, 
is admired for its truth ; but, by disturbing the solem- 
nity of the marvellous scene, it repels like a falsehood. 

6. There is another beautiful and picturesque legend 
relating to St. John, of which I have never seen, any 
representation ; but it may, possibly, have occasioned 
the frequent introduction of a partridge into the pictures 
of sacred subjects, particularly in the Venetian School. 
St. John had a tame partridge, which he cherished 
much ; and he amused himself with feeding and tend- 
ing it. " A certain huntsman, passing by with his 
bow and arrows, was astonished to see the great apostle, 
so venerable for his age and sanctity, engaged in such 
an amusement. The apostle asked him if lie always 
kept his bow bent ? He answered, that would be the 
way to render it useless. ' If,' replied St. John, ' you 
unbend j'our bow to prevent its being useless, so do I 
thus unbend my mind for the same reason.' " 

7. The subject entitled the Martyrdom of St. John 
represents his immersion in a caldron of boiling oil, 
by order of the Emperor Domitian. According to the 
received tradition, this event took place outside the 
Latin gate at Rome ; and on the spot stands the chapel 
of San Giovanni in Olio, commemorating his miracu- 
lous deliverance, which is painted in fresco on the walls. 
The subject forms, of course, one of a series of the life 
of St. John, and is occasionally met with in old ])rints 
and pictures ; but it is uncommon. Tlie treatment 
affords little variety ; in Albert Diirer's famous wood- 
cut, St. John is sitting in a pot of boiling oil ; one 
executioner is blowing the fire, anotlier is pouring oil 
from a ladle on the saint's head ; a judge, probably in- 
tended for Domitian, is seated on a throne to the left, 
and there are numerous spectators. Padovanino painted 
this subject for the San Pietro at Venice ; Rubens, with 


ST. JOHN. 171 

horrible truth of detail, for the altar-piece of St. John 
at Malines. 

It is the martyrdom in the boiling oil which gives 
St. John the right to bear the palm, with which he is 
occasionally seen. 

8. St. John, habited in priest's garments, descends 
the steps of an altar into an open grave, in which he 
lays himself down, not in death, but in sleep, until the 
coming of Christ ; " being reserved alive with Enoch 
and Elijah (who also knew not death), to preach 
against the Antichrist in the last days." This fanciful 
legend is founded on the following text : " Peter, see- 
ing the disciple whom Jesus loved following, saith unto 
Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do ? Jesus saith 
unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is 
that to thee ? Then went this saying abroad among 
the brethren that that disciple should not die." (John 
xxi. 21, 22.) 

The legend which supposes St. John reserved alive 
has not been generally received in the Church, and as 
a subject of painting it is very uncommon. It occurs 
in the Menologium Grtecum,* where the grave into 
which St. John descends is, according to the legend, 
"fossa in crucis Jiguraiii " (in the form of a cross). In 
a series of the deaths of the apostles,! St. John is as- 
cending from the grave ; for, according to the Greek 
legend, St. John died without pain or change, and im- 
mediately rose again in bodily form, and ascended into 
heaven to I'ejoin Christ and the Virgin. 

In a small and very curious picture which I saw at 
Rome, J forming part of a Predella, there is a tomb 
something like the Xanthian tombs in form : one end 
is open ; St. John, with a long gray beard, is seen 
issuing from it, and, as he ascends, he is met by Christ, 
the Virgin, St. Peter, and St. Paul, who are descending 
from above ; while figures below look up with astonish- 

* Vatican MSS., tenth century. 

t MSS., ninth century, Paris Nat. Library. 

X Vatican, Christian Museum , 


ment. On the ancient tloors of San Paolo he is lying 
in an open grave or sarcophagus. 

Of the miracles performed by John after his death, 
two are singularly interesting in the history of art ; 
both have been treated in scul]5ture. 

9. When the Empress Galla Placidia was returning 
from Constantinople to Ravenna with her two children 
(a. d. 425) slie encountered a terrible storm. In her 
fear and anguish she vowed a vow to St. John the 
Evangelist, and, being landed in safety, she dedicated 
to his honor a magnificent church. When the edifice 
was finished, she was extremely desirous of procuring 
some relics of the Evangelist, wherewith to consecrate 
his sanctuary ; but as it was not the manner of those 
days to exhume, and buy and sell, still less to steal, the 
bodies of holy men and martyrs, the desire of the pious 
empress remained unsatisfied. However, as it is re- 
lated, St. John himself took pity upon her ; for one 
night, as she prayed earnestly, he appeared to her in a 
vision ; and when she threw herself at his feet to em- 
brace and kiss them, he disappeared, leaving one of his 
slippers or sandals in her hand, which sandal was long 

The antique church of Galla Placidia still exists at 
Ravenna, to keep alive, after the lapse of fourteen cen- 
turies, t!ie memory of her dream, and of the condescen- 
sion of the blessed apostle. Kot much of the original 
building is left ; the superb mosaics have all disap- 
peared, except a few fragments, in which may be 
traced the storm at sea, and Galla Placidia making 
her vow. Over the principal porch, whicli is of wliite 
marble, in the Lombard style, and richly and elegantly 
ornamented, the miracle of the slipper is represented in 
two bas-reliefs, one above the other. The lower com- 
partment, or lunette, represents a tabernacle, and with- 
in it an altar : St. John the Evangelist is seen offc-ring 
incense ; on the other side is Barbation, the confessor 
of the empress ; she, prostrate at the feet of the apostle, 


ST. jorix. lyj 

seems to take off his sandal : on each side are six hov- 
ering angels bearing the implements of the mass. In 
the upper compartment, Galla Placidia is seen kneehng 
at the feet of Christ, and offering to him the sacred 
sandal, while the evangelist stands on one side, and 
Barhation on the other. These bas-reliefs are not 
older tlian the twelftli century', and are in excellent 
preservation ; I should suppose, from the st\-le of the 
grouping, that they were copied, or imitated,"' from the 
older mosaics, once in the interior of the church. 

10. The other miracle has the rare interest of being 
English in its origin and in its representation. " King 
Edward the Confessor had, after Christ and the Virgin 
Mary, a special veneration for St. John the Evangelist. 
One day, returning from his church at Westminster, 
where he had been hearing mass in honor of the evan- 
gelist, he was accosted by a pilgrim, wlio asked of him 
an alms for the love of God and St. Jolm. The king, 
who was ever merciful to the poor, immediately drew 
from his finger a ring, and, unknown to any one, de- 
livered it to the beggar. When the king had reigned 
twenty-four years, it came to pass that two English- 
men, pilgrims, returning from the Holy Land to their 
own country, were met by one in the habit of a pilgrim, 
who asked of them concerning their country ; and be- 
ing told they were of England, he said to them, ' When 
ye shall iiave arrived in your own country, go to Kin^ 
Edward, and salute him in my name ; say to him, that 
I thank him for the alms which he bestowed on me in 
a certain street in Westminster ; for there, on a certain 
day, as I begged of him an alms, he bestowed on me 
tills ring, wliich till now I have preserved, and ye shall 
carry it back to him, saying that in six months from 
this time he shall quit the world, and come and remain 
with me forever.' And the pilgrims, being astounded, 
said, ' Wlio art thou, and where is thy dwelling-place ? ' 
And he answered, saying, ' I am John the Evangelist. 
Edward your king is my friend, and for the sanctity 
of his life I hold him dear. Go now, therefore, dehver 


to him this message and this ring, and I will pray to 
God that ye may arrive safely in yoiu" own country.' 
When St. John had spoken thus, he delivered to them 
the ring, and vanished out of their sight. The pilgrims, 
praising and thanking the Lord for this glorious vision, 
went on their journey ; and being arrived in England, 
they repaired to King Edward, and saluted him, and 
delivered the ring and the message, relating all truly. 
And the king received the news joyfully, and feasted 
the messengers royally. Then he set himself to pre- 
pare for his departure from this world. On the eve of 
the Nativity, in the year- of our Lord 1066, he fell sick, 
and on the eve of the Epiphany following he died. 
The ring he gave to the Abbot of Westminster, to be 
forever preserved among the relics there." * 

According to one account,t the pilgrims met the 
king near his palace at Waltham, at a place since 
called Havering. The writer adds, " In allusion to 
this story. King Edward II. oftered at his coronation a 
pound of gold made in the figure of a king holding a 
ring, and a mark of gold (8 oz.) made like to a pilgrim 
putting forth his hand to receive the ring." These 
must have been two little statuettes of gold. 

The legend of King Edward and St. John the Evan- 
gelist is represented, with other legends of the same 
monarch, along the top of the screen of Edward the 
Confessor's chapel. It is in three compartments. The 
first represents King Edward bestowing the ring on St. 
John in the disguise of a pilgrim ; Westminster Abbey 
is seen behind. The second shows us the meeting of 
the pilgrims and St. John in Palestine ; he holds what 
seems a palm. In the third the pilgrims deliver the 
ring to King Edward, who is seated at taltle. The 
sculpture is very rude ; the figures disproportioncd and 
ungraceful. They are supposed to be of the time of 
Henry VI. 

* Johannis Brompton Cronicon, 955. 
t Dart's Hist, of Westminster. 

ST. JOHI^. ly^ 

The same legend was painted on one of the windows 
of Romford church, in Essex, but whether it still exists 
there I know not.* 

Before I quit the subject of the Evangelists, it is 
worth while to observe that, in Greek Art, not only 
the Four Evangelists, but the six writers of the Acts 
and Epistles, are considered as a sacred series. In an 
ancient and beautiful MS. of the Epistolce Canoniche, 
presented by the Queen of Cyprus to Pope Innocent 
VIII., they are thus represented, two and two to- 
gether : — 

St. Luke, with a very thoughtful, earnest, counte- 
nance, holds a scroll, on which is written in Greek the 
Commencement of the Acts, " The former treatise have 
I made, Theophilus," &c. ; and St. James, with a 
long, very earnest, and refined face, holds a single roll. 

St. Peter, with a broad, coarse, powerful physiog- 
nomy, strongly characterized, holds two rolls ; and St. 
John, with a long and very refined face, gray hair and 
beard, holds three rolls. 

St. Jude, mth a long white beard and very aquiline 
nose, holds one roll. St. Paul, bald in front, with long 
brown hair and beard, and a refined face, bears many 
rolls tied up together. 

All the figures are on a gold ground, about six 
inches in height, very finely conceived, though, as is 
usual in Byzantine art, formal and mechanical in ex- 
ecution. They look like small copies of very grand 
originals. The draperies are all classical ; a pale 
violet or brown tunic and a white mantle, as in the old 
mosaics ; the rolls in their hands corresponding with 
the number of their writing's. 

* V. Legend of St. Edward the Confessor in the " Legends of the 
Monastic Orders." 


\r«5^ EXT to those who recorded the word of God 

were those called by Christ to the task of 
diffusing his doctrine, and sent to preach the 
kingdom of heaven '-through all nations." 
The earliest representations of the Twelve Apostles 
appear to have been, like those of the Four Evange- 
lists, purely emblematical : they were figured as twelve 
sheep, with Christ in the midst, as the Good Shepherd 
bearing a lamb in his arms ; or, much more frequently, 
Christ is himself the Lamb of God, raised on an emi- 
nence and crowned with a cruciform nimbus, and the 
a])ostles were ranged on each side, as sheep. Instances 
are to be met with in the old Christian bas-reliefs. In 
the old Roman churches* we find tliis representation 
but little varied, and the situation is always the same. 
In the centre is the lamb standing on an eminence, from 
which flow the four rivers of Paradise ; on one side six 
sheep issuing from the city of Jerusalem, on the other 
six sheep issuing from the city of Bethlehem, the whole 
disposed in a line forming a sort of frieze, just below 
the decoration of the vault of the apsis. The church 
of S. M. Maggiore exhibits the only exception I have 
met with ; there we find a group of sheep, entering, not 
issuing from, the gates of Jerusalem and Bethlehem: 

* Rome. 

S. M. in Trastevere. S. Prassede. S. Clemente. S. 


in this case, however, the sheep may represent believers, 
or disciples in general, not the twelve apostles. Upon 
the great crucifix in the apsis of San Clemente, at 
Eome, are twelve doves, which appear to signify the 
twelve apostles. 

The next step was to represent the apostles as twelve 
men all alike, each with a sheep, and Christ in the mid- 
dle, also with a sheep, sometimes larger than the others. 
We find this on some of the sai-cophagi.* Again, a 
little later, we have them represented as twelve vener- 
able men, bearing tablets or scrolls in their hands, no 
emblems to distinguish one from another, but their 
names inscribed over or beside each. They are thus 
represented in relief on several ancient sarcophagi now 
in the Christian Museum in the Vatican, and in several 
of the most ancient churches at Rome and Ravenna, 
ranged on each side of the Saviour in the vault of the 
apsis, or standing in a line beneath. 

But while in the ancient Greek types, and the old 
mosaics, the attributes are omitted, they adhei'e almost 
invariably to a certain characteristic individual repre- 
sentation, which in the later ages of painting was wholly 
lost, or at least neglected. In these eldest tj'pes, St. 
Peter has a broad face, white hair, and short white 
beard ; St. Paul, a long face, high bold forehead, dark 
hair and beard ; St. Andrew is aged, with flowing white 
hair and beard ; St. John, St. Thomas, St. Philip, 
young and beardless ; St. James Major and St. James 
Minor, in the prime of life, short brown hair and 
beard ; both should bear a resemblance more or less to 
the Saviour, but St. James Minor particularly : St. 
Matthew, St. Jude, St. Simon, St. Matthias, aged, with 
white hair. The tablets or scrolls which they carry in 
their hands bear, or are supposed to bear, the articles 
of the Creed. It is a tradition that, Iiefore the apostles 
dispersed to preach the Gospel in all lands, they assem- 
bled to compose the declaration of faith since called the 

* Bottari, Tab, xxviii. 


Apostles' Creed, and that each of them furnished one 
of the twelve propositions contained in it, in the fol- 
lowing order : — St. Peter : Credo in Deum Patrem om- 
nipotentem, creatorem cceli et teirce. St. Andrew : Et in 
Jesum Christum Filium ejus unicum, Dominum nostrum. 
St. James Major : Qui conceptus es-t de Spiritu Sanclo, 
natus ex Maria Virgine. St. John : Passus sub Pontio 
Pilato, cruciJiTUS, mortuus et sepultus. St. Philip : De- 
scendit ad inferos, tertia die resurrexit a mortuis. St. 
James Minor : Ascendit ad coelos, sedet ad dexteram Dei 
Patris omnipotentis. St. Tiiomas : Inde venturus est ju- 
dicare vivos et mortuos. St. Bartholomew : Credo in 
Spiritum Sanctum. St. Matthew: Sanctam Ecclesiam 
Catholicam ; sanctorum communionem. St. Simon : Re- 
missionem pecatorum. St. Matthias : Carnis resurrectio- 
nem. St. Thaddcus : Et vitam ceternam. 

The statues of the apostles on the shrine of the Vir- 
gin in the San Michele at Florence exhibit a fine ex- 
ample of this arrangement. 

In later times, the Apostles, instead of being disposed 
in a line, are grouped round the Saviour in glory, or 
they form a circle of heads in medallions : as statues, 
they ornament the screen in front of the altar, or they 
are placed in a line on each side of the nave, standing 
against the pillars which support it. From the sixth 
century it became usual to distinguish each of them by 
a particular emblem or attribute borrowed from some 
circumstance of his life or death. Thus, taking them 
in order, according to the canon of the mass, — 

St. Peter bears the keys or a fish. 

St. Paul, the sword : sometimes two swords. 

St. Andrew, the transverse cross. 

St. James Major, the pilgrim's staff. 

St. John, the chalice with the serpent ; sometimes 
the eagle also : but the eagle, as I have observed, be- 
longs to him properly only in his character of Evan- 

St. Thomas, a builder's rule : also, but more seldom, 
a spear. 



St. James Minor, a club. 

St. Philip, the staff or crosier, surmounted by a 
rross ; or a small cross in his hand. 

St. Bartholomew, a large knife. 

St. Matthew, a purse. 

St. Simon, a saw. 

St. Thaddeus (or Jude), a halberd or lance. 

St. Matthias, a lance. 

The origin and meaning of these attributes will be 
explained presently : meantime it must be borne in 
mind that, although in sacred art the apostles are al- 
ways twelve in number, they are not always the same 
personages. St. Jude is frequently omitted to make 
room for St. Paul. Sometimes, in the most ancient 
churches (as in the Cathedral of Palermo), St. Simon 
and St. ilatthias are omitted, and the Evangelists St. 
Mark and St. Luke figure in their places. The Byzan- 
tine manual published by Didron omits James Minor, 
Jude, and Matthias ; and inserts Paul, Luke, and Mark. 
This was the arrangement on the bronze doors of San 
Paolo-fuori-le-Mura at Rome, executed by Byzantine 
artists in the tenth centur}^ and now destroyed. 

On an ancient pulpit, of beautiful workmanship, in 
the Cathedral of Troyes, the arrangement is according 
to the Greek formula.* Thus, — 

S :i S ij 

cQ m cQ oQ 


' *5 


t. aJ £ g 



S .a -3 


c a = J3 



cu h3 <; H 


cc cc ai tn 






.S n ta 


CO P 1-5 l-s 


02 tC 02 OQ 


Here, John the Baptist figures in his character of angel 
or messenger ; and St. Paul, St. Mark, and St. Luke 
take the place of St. James Minor, St. Jude, and St. 

* The churches in the eastern provinces of France, particularly 
in Champagne, exhibit marked traces of the influence of Greek 
art in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. 



The earliest instance of the Apostles entering into a 
scheme of ecclesiastical decoration, as the consecrated 
and delegated teachers of a revealed religion, occurs in 
the church of San Giovanni in Fonte at Ravenna.* la 
the centre of the dome is the Baptism of Christ, repre- 
sented quite in the classical style ; the figure of the 
Saviour being entirely undraped, and the Jordan, sig- 
nified by an antique river god, sedge-crowned, and 
bearing a linen napkin as though he were an attendant 
at a bath. Around, in a circle, in the manner of radii, 
ai-e the twelve apostles. The order is, — Peter, An- 
drew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Simon, Jude, 
James Minor, Matthew, Thomas, Paul ; so that Peter 
and Paul stand face to face at one extremity of the 
circle, and Simon and Bartholomew back to back at the 
other. All wear pointed caps, and carry the oblation 
in their hands. Peter has a yellow vest and white 
mantle ; Paul, a white vest and a yellow mantle, and 
so all round alternately. The name of each is inscribed 
over his head, and without the title Sanctus, which, 
though admitted into the Calendar in 449, was not 
adopted in works of art till some years later, about 472. 

In the next instance, the attributes had not yet 
been admitted, except in the figures of St. Peter and 
St. Paul. 

Mosaic (a. d. 816). Christ, in the centre, stands 
on an eminence ; in one hand he holds an open book, 
on which is inscribed Pax vobis. St. Peter, with the 
keys and a cross, stands on the right ; and Christ, 
with his right hand points to the cross. St. Paul is on 
the left, with his sword ; beyond, there are five apostles 
on one side, and four on the other : in all eleven 
(Judas being properly omitted). Each holds a book, 
and all are robed in white ; underneath the whole is 
inscribed, in Latin, the words of our Saviour, " Go ye, 
and teach all nations." On the arch to the right, 
Christ is seated on a throne, and presents the keys to 
St. Peter, who kneels on one side, and the standard to 

* A. D. 461. Ciampini, Vet. Mon. p. 1, c. iv. 



Constantino, who kneels on the other (alluding, of 
course, to the famous standard). On the arch to the 
left, St. Peter is throned, and presents the stole to Pope 
Leo III., and the standard to Charlemagne. This 
singular monument, a kind of resume of the power of 
the Church, is a restoration of the old mosaic, executed 
by order of Leo III. in the Triclinium of the old pal- 
ace of the Lateran, and now on one side of the Scala 
Santa, the side facing the Porta San Giovanni. 

Mosaic, in the old basilica of St. Paul (a. d. 1206). 
In the centre an altar veiled, on which are tlie Gospels 
(or perhaps, rather, the Book of Life, the seven-sealed 
book in the Revelations) and the instruments of the 
Passion. Behind it rises a large Greek cross, adorned 
with gold and jewels. Underneath, at the foot of the 
altar, five small figures standing and bearing palms, 
representing those who suffered for the cause of Christ ; 
and on each side, kneeling, the monk Aginulph, and 
Giovanni Gaetano Orsini, afterwards Nicholas III. 
On each side of the altar, a majestic angel : one bears 
a scroll, inscribed Gloria in excelsis Deo ; the 
other, Et in terra pax hominibus box^ volunta- 
tis. Beyond these the apostles, six on each side, bear- 
ing scrolls with the articles of the Creed. They are 
much alike, all in white robes, and alternately with 
each stands a palm-tree, the symbol of victory and 
resuiTection. This composition, of a colossal size, 
formed a kind of frieze (taking the place of the em- 
blematical lamb and twelve sheep) round the apsis of 
the Basilica. 

In sculpture, the Apostles, as a series, entered into 
all decorative ecclesiastical architecture : sometimes on 
the exterior of the edifice, always in the interior. In 
our English cathedrals they are seldom found unmuti- 
lated, except when out of the reach of the spoiler ; such 
was the indiscriminate rage which confounded the ven- 
erable effigies of these delegated teachers of the truth 
with the images which were supposed to belong exclu- 
sively to the repudiated religion ! 


Where the scheme of decoration is purely theologi- 
cal, the proper place of the Apostles is after the Angels, 
Prophets, aad Evangelists; but when the motif, or 
leading idea, implies a special signification, such as the 
Last Judgment, Paradise, the Coronation of the Ma- 
donna, or the apotheosis of a saint, then the order is 
changed, and the apostles appear immediately after the 
Divine Personages and before the angels, as forming a 
part of the council or court of heaven; — "When the 
Son of Man shall come in his glory, ye also shall sit 
on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel."* 
Such is the an-angemcnt in the Campo Santo, in An- 
gelico's Paradiso in the Florence Gallery, in Raphael's 
Disputa, and many other instances : and I may add 
the architectural treatment on the facade of Wells Ca- 
thedral, where, immediately under the Saviour sitting 
in judgment, stand the twelve apostles, and beneath 
them the hierarchy of angels, each of the nine choirs 
being here expressed by a single angel. t Therefore to 
determine the proper place of the Apostles, it is neces- 
sary to observe well and to understand what has been the 
design of the artist, and the leading idea of the whole 
composition, whetiier strictly theological or partly scenic. 
In all monuments which have a solemn or a sacred 
purpose, — altars, jjulpits, tombs, — the Apostles find 
an appropriate place, eitiier in connection with other 
sacred personages, or as a company apart, — the band 
of teachers. The range of statues along the top of 
the screen in front of the choir of St. Mark's at Ven- 
ice will be remembered by all who have seen them : in 
the centre stand the Virgin and St. Mark, and then the 
Apostles, six on each side, grand, solemn figures, stand- 
ing there as if to guard the sanctviary. These are by 
Jacobelli, in the simple religious style of the fifteenth 
century, but quite Italian. In contrast with them, as 

* Matt, xix, 28 ; and Luke xxii. 30. 

t I must refer the reader to Mr. Cockerell's illustrations and 
restorations of the rich and multifarious and significant sculpture 
of Wells Cathedral. 



the finest example of German sculptural treatment, we 
have the twelve ajrostles on the tomb of St. Sebald, in 
his church at Nurembero;, cast in bronze by Peter Vis- 
cher (about 1500). These have become well known by 
the casts which have lately been brought to England ; 
they are about two feet high, all remarkable for the 
characteristic expression of the heads, and the grand 
simphcity of the attitudes and draperies. 

There are instances of the Apostles introduced into 
a scheme of ecclesiastical decoration as devotional fig- 
ures, but assuming, from the style of treatment and 
from being placed in relation witli other personages, a 
touch of the dramatic and picturesque. Such are 
Correggio's Apostles in the cupola of the duomo at 
Parma (15.32), which may be considered as the most 
striking instance that could be produced of studied con- 
trast to the solemnity and simplicity of the ancient 
treatment : here the motif h essentially dramatic. They 
stand round the dome as spectators would stand in a 
gallery or balcony, all in picturesque attitudes, studi- 
ously varied (some, it must be confessed, rather extrav- 
agant), and all looking up with amazement, or hope, 
or Joy, or adoration, to the figure of the glorified Vir- 
gin ascending into heaven. 

Another series of Apostles in the San Giovanni at 
Parma, which Correggio had painted earlier (1522), 
are conceived, I think, in a finer spirit as to character, 
but, perhaps, not more appropriate to the scene. Here 
the twelve apostles are seated on clouds round the glo- 
rified Saviour, as they are supposed to be in heaven : 
they are but partially draped. In the heads but little 
attention has been paid to the ancient types, except in 
those of St. Peter and St. Paul ; but they are sublime 
as well as picturesque in the conception of character 
and expression. 

The Apostles in Michael Angelo's Last Judgment 
(a. d. 1540) exhibit a still further deviation from the 
antique style of treatment. They stand on each side 
of the Sa\'iour, who is not, here. Saviour and Redeem- 


er, but inexorable Judge. They are grandly and arti- 
ficially grouped, all without any drapery whatever, and 
with forms and attitudes which recall an assemblage of 
Titans holding a council of war, rather than the glori- 
fied companions of Christ. In early pictures of Christ 
in glory, the apostles, his companions in heaven as on 
earth, form, with the patriarchs and prophets, the celes- 
tial court or council : they sit upon thrones to the right 
and to the left.* Raphael's "Disputa" in the Vatican 
is a grand example of this arrangement. 

Sets of the Apostles in devotional pictures and 
prints are so common, that I shall particularize only a 
few among the most interesting and celebrated. En- 
gravings of these can easily be referred to. 

1. A set by Raphael, engraved by Marc Antonio: 
grand, graceful figures, and each with his appropriate 
attribute. Though admirably distinguished in form 
and bearing, very little attention has been paid to the 
ancient types, except perhaps in St. Peter and St. 
John. Here St. James Minor is omitted to make 
room for St. Paul. 

2. A set by Lucas van Leyden, smaller than Ra- 
phael's, but magnificent in feeling : here also the an- 
cient types are for the most part neglected. These 
two sets should be compared as perfect examples of 
the best Italian and the most characteristic German 
manner. Some of the German sets are very curious 
and grotesque. 

3. By H. S. Beham, a most curious set in what 
may be called the ultra German style : they stand two 
and two together, like a procession of old beggars ; the 
workmanship exquisite. Another set by Bchain, in 
which the figures stand singly, and which includes the 
Four Evangelists, dressed like old burgomasters, with 
the emblematical wings, has been already mentioned. 

4. A set by Parmigiano, graceful and mannered, as 
is usual with him. 

5. By Agostino Caracei. This set, famous as works 

* Luke xxii. 30. 




of art, must, when compared with those of Raphael 
and Lucas van Leyderi, be pronounced absolutely vul- 
gar. Here St. John is drinking out of his cup, — aa 
idea which might strike some people as picturesque ; 
but it is in vile taste. Thaddeus has a saw as well as 
Simon ; Peter has the papal tiara at his feet ; St. James 
Minor, instead of Thomas, carries the builder's rule ; 
and St Bartholomew has his skin thrown over his 
shoulders. This set is an example of the confusion 
which prevailed with respect to the old religious types 
and attributes, after the first half of the sixteenth 

6. " The Five Disciples," by Albert Diirer, seem 
intended to form part of a complete set. We have St. 
Paul, St. Bartholomew, St. Thomas, St. Philip, and 
St. Simon. The two last are the finest, and are most 
grandly conceived. 

These are examples of the simplest devotional treat- 

When the Apostles are grouped together in various 
historical scenes, — some Scriptural, some legendary, 
— they are more interesting as individual personages ; 
and the treatment should be more characteristic. Some 
of these subjects belong properly to the hfe of Christ : 
as the Delivery of the Keys to Peter ; the Transfigura- 
tion ; the Entry into Jerusalem ; the Last Supper ; the 
Ascension. Others, as the Death and Assumption of 
the Virgin, will be considered in the legends of the 
Madonna. But there are others, again, which refer 
more particularly to the personal history of the Apos- 
tles, as related in the Acts and in the Legends. 

The Descent of the Holy Ghost was the first and 
most important event after the Ascension of Christ. 
It is thus described : " When the day of Pentecost 
was fully come, they were all with one accord in one 
place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, 
as of a rushing, mighty wind, and it filled all the house 
where they were sitting. And there appeared unto 


them cloven tongues, like as of fire, and sat upon each 
of them, and tliey were all filled with the Holy Ghost, 
and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit 
gave them utterance. And tliere were dwelling at 
Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation 
under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad the 
multitude came together, and were confounded, because 
that every man heard them speak in his own language. 
. . . But this is that which was spoken by the prophet 
Joel." (Acts ii. 1-12, 16.) 

According to the usual interpretation, the word they, 
in the first verse, does not signify the apostles merely, 
but with them, " the women, and Mary the mother of 
Jesus, and his brethren " ; hence in so many I'epresen- 
tations of this subject the Virgin is not only present, 
but a principal person : Mary Magdalene and others 
are also frequently introduced. 

1. The most striking example I have yet met Avith 
is the grand mosaic in the ])riucii)al dome of St. Mark's 
at Venice. In the apex of the dome is seen the Celes- 
tial Dove in a glory of light ; rays proceed from the 
centre on every side, and fall on the heads of the Virgin 
and the twelve apostles, seated in a circle. Lower 
down is a series of twelve figures standing all round 
the dome : " Parthians, Medes, and Elamites, the dwell- 
ers in Mesopotamia, Judaea, Cappadocio, Pontus, Asia, 
Phrygia, Pamphylia, Cretes, and Arabians," — each 
nation represented by one person, and all in strange 
dresses, and looking up with amazement. 

2. The Twelve Apostles and the Virgin are seen 
above seated in an enclosure ; tongues of fire descend 
from Heaven ; beneath is a closed door, at which sev- 
eral persons in strange foreign dresses, with turbans, 
&c., are listening with amazement. One of these is in 
the Chinese costume, — a curious circumstance, consid- 
ering the age of the picture, and which could have oc- 
curred at that date nowhere but at Venice.* 

3. In the interior of a temple, sustained by slendei 

* Venice Acad., fourteenth century. 


pillars, the Twelve Apostles are seated in a circle, and 
in the midst the Virgin, tongues of fire on each head. 
Here the Virgin is the principal person.* 

4. An interior, the Twelve Apostles seated in a cir- 
cle ; above them, the Celestial Dove in a glory, and 
from his beak proceed twelve tongues of flame ; under- 
neath, in a small arch, is the prophet Joel, as an old 
man crowned with a kingly crown and holding twelve 
rolls or scrolls, indicating the Gospel in so many differ- 
ent languages. The allusion is to the words of Joel, 
ii. 28 : " And I will pour out my Spirit upon all 
flesh." t This is the Greek foi-mula, and it is curious 
that it should have been closely followed by Pinturic- 
chio ; — thus : 

5. In a I'ich landscape, with cypresses, palm-trees, 
and birds, the Virgin is seen kneeling ; St. Peter on 
the right, and James Minor on the left, also kneeling ; 
five other apostles on each side. The Celestial Dove, 
with outspread wings, descends in a glory surrounded 
by fifteen cherubim : there are no tongues of fire. 
The prophet Joel is seen above, with the inscription, 
" Effundam de Spiritu meo super omnem carnem." f 

6. The Virgin and the Apostles seated ; flames of 
fire stand on their heads ; the Holy Ghost appears 
above in a glory of light, from which rays are poured 
on every side. Mary Magdalene, and another Mar\', 
are present behind ; astonishment is the prevailing ex- 
pression in every face, except in the Virgin and St. 
Peter. The composition is attributed to Raphael. § 

The next event of importance is the separation of the 
Twelve Apostles when they disperse to preach the Gas- 
pel in all lands. According to the ancient traditions, 
the apostles determined by lot to what countries they 
should go : Peter went to Antioch ; James the Great 
remained in Jerusalem and the neighborhood ; Philip 

* Rosini, vol. iii. p. 75. 

t Convent of Chilandari, Mount Atho* 

J Vatican, Sala del Pozzo. § Vatican. 


went to Phrygia ; John, to Ephesus ; Thomas, to 
Parthia and Judrea ; Andrew, to Scrthia ; Bartliolo- 
mew, to India and Juda;a. The Parting of the Apostles 
is a beautiful subject, of which I have met with but 
few examples ; one is a woodcut after Titian. The 
Mission of the Apostles I remember to have seen by 
Bissoni over an altar in the Santa Giustina at Padua : 
they are preparing to depart ; one reads from a book ; 
another looses his shoes from his feet, in allusion to 
the text, " Take neither purse nor scrip nor shoes " ; 
several are bidding adieu to the Virgin. This picture 
struck me as dramatic ; its merits otherwise I do not 

"We have next "The Twelve Baptisms."* In the 
tipper compartment Christ is standing in a majestic 
attitude, and on each side are six apostles, all alike, 
and in white garments. The inscription above is in 
Greek : " Go ye, and preach the Gospel to all nations." 
Below, in twelve smaller compartments, each of the 
apostles is seen baptizing a convert : an attendant, in 
white garments, stands by each font holding a napkin. 
One of the converts and his attendant are black, denot- 
ing clearly the chamberlain of the Queen of Ethiopia. 
This is a very uncommon subject. 

And, lastly, we have " The Twelve Martyrdoms." 
This is a more frequent series, in pictures and in prints, 
and occurs in a set of large fresco compositions in the 
church of San Nereo e Sant' Achilleo at Rome. In 
such representations the usual treatment is as follows : 

1. St. Peter is crucified with his head downwards. 

2. St. Andrew, bound on a transverse cross. 3. St. 
James Major, beheaded with a sword. 4. St. John, in 
a caldron of boiling oil. 5. St. Philip, bound on a 
cross in the form of a T. 6. St. Bartholomew, flayed. 
7. St. Thomas pierced with a spear. 8. St. Matthew, 
killed with a sword. 9. St. James Minor, struck down 

* Greek MS. ninth century. Paris, Bibl. du Roi, No. 510. 


with a club. 10. St. Simon and St. Jude together . 
one is killed with a sword, the other with a club. 11. 
St. Matthias has his head cloven by a halbert. 12. 
St. Paul is belieaded.* 

The authority for many of these martyrdoms is 
wholly apocryphal,! and they sometimes vary ; but 
this is the usual mode of representation in Western 
Art. In early Greek Art a series of the Deaths of the 
Apostles often occurs, but they do not all sutler martyr- 
dom ; and the subject of St. John in the caldron of 
boiling oil, so famous in the Latin Churcii, is, I believe, 
unknown, or, at least, so rare, that I have not found it 
in genuine Byzantine Art. 

The most ancient series I have met with (in a Greek 
MS. of the ninth century) shows us five apostles cruci- 
fied : St. Peter and St. Philip with the head down- 
wards ; St. Andrew on the transverse cross, as usual ; 
St. Simon and St. Bartholomew, in the same manner 
as our Saviour. St. Thomas is pierced by a lance ; 
and St. John is buried, and then raised by angels, 
according to the legend. The same series, similarly 
treated, ornamented the doors of the old Basilica of 
St. Paul, executed by Greek artists of the tenth cen- 

Wherever the Apostles appear as a series, we expect, 
of course, some degree of discriminating propriety of 
character in each face and figure. We seek it when 
they merely form a part of the general scheme of sig- 
nificant decoration in the architectural arrangement of 
a place of worship ; we seek it with more reason when 
they stand before us as a series of devotional represen- 
tations ; and still more when, as actors in some piarticu- 

* A set of mavtyi'doms is in the Frankfort Museum ; another is 
mentioned in Bartsch, viii. 22. 

t Eusebius says that all the apostles suffered martyrdom ; but 
this is not borne out by any ancient testimony. — Lardner^s 
Cred. of Gospel Hist., vol. viii. p. 81. 

I They were fortunately engraved for D'Agincourt's Histoire 
de VArt, before they were destroyed by fire. 



lar scene, they are supposed to be animated by senti- 
ments called forth by the occasion, and modified by the 
individual character. By what test shall we try the 
truth and propriety of such representations ? We ought 
to know both what to require from the artist, and on 
what grounds to require it, before we can rest satisfied. 
In the Gospel-histories tlie Apostles are consistently 
and beautifully distinguished in temper and bearing. 
Their characters, whether exhibited at full length, or 
merely touched upon, are sustained with dramatic truth. 
The medijeval legends, however wild, are, as far as 
character goes, in harmony with these Scriptural por- 
traits, and fill up the outline given. It becomes, there- 
fore, a really interesting speculation to observe how far 
this variety of characteristic expression has been carried 
out in the early types, how far attended to, or neglected, 
by the great painters, since the revival of Art. 

St. Peter axd St. Paul. 

Lat. SS. Petrus et Paulus. Ital. San Pietro or Piero, San Paolo. 
Ft. S. Pierre, S. Paul. Spa. San Pedro, San Paolo. June 29 
and 30. 

I HAVE already observed that, as apostles and preach- 
ers of the word, St. Peter and St. Paul take the first 
place. Even during their lives, a superiority was ac- 
corded to them ; and this superioi-ity, as the acknowl- 
edged heads and founders of the Christian Church, 
under Christ, has been allowed down to the present 
time. The precedence is by common consent given to 
St. Peter ; but they are held to be equal in faith, in 
merit, and in sanctity. 

The early Christian Church was always considered 
under two great divisions : the church of the converted 
Jews and the church of the Gentiles. The first was 
represented by St. Peter, the second by St. Paul. Stand- 
ing together in this mutual relation, they represent the 
univei'sal Church of Christ ; hence in works of art they 


are seldom separated, and are indispensable in all eccle- 
siastical decoration. Their proper place is on each side 
of the Saviour, or of the Virgin throned ; or on each 
side of the altar ; or on each side of the arch over tlie 
choir. In any case, where they stand together, not 
merely as Apostles, but Founders, their place is next 
after the Evangelists and the Prophets. 

Thus seen almost everywhere in companionship, it 
becomes necessary to distinguish them from each other; 
for St. Peter does not always bear his keys, nor St. 
Paul his sword. In the earliest examples, \hese attri- 
butes are wholly omitted ; yet I scarcely know any in- 
stance in which a distinct type of head has not been 
more or less attended to. 

The ancient Greek type of the head of St. Peter, 
"the Pilot of the Galilean lake," is so strongly charac- 
terized as to have the air of a portrait. It "is either 
taken from the description of Nicephorus, so often 
quoted, or his description is taken from some very an- 
cient representation: it certainly harmonizes witli all 
our preconceived notions of St. Peter's temperament 
and ciiaracter. He is a robust old man, with a broad 
forehead, and rather coarse features, an open, undaunted 
countenance, short gray hair and short thick beard, 
curled, and of a silvery white : according to the descrip- 
tive portrait of Nicephorus, he had red, weak eyes, —a 
peculiarity which it has not been thought necessary to 
preserve in his effigies. In some early pictures he is 
bald on the top of the head, and the hair grows thick 
around in a circle, somewhat like the priestly tonsure ; 
and in some examples this tonsure has theVorm of a 
triple row of curls close to the head, a kind of tiara. 
A curious exception to this predominant, almost uni- 
versal, tj-pe is to be found in Anglo-Saxon Art,* where 
St. Peter is always beardless, and wears the tonsure; 
so that but for the keys, suspended to a ring on his 
finger, one might take him for an elderly monk. It is 
a tradition that the Gentiles shaved the head of St. 

• St. Guthlac's Book. Ethelwold's Benedictional. 



Peter in order to make him an object of derision, and 
that this is the origin of the priestly tonsure. 

The dress of St. Peter in the mosaics and Greek 
pictures is a blue tunic, with white drapery thrown over 
it, but in general the proper colors are a blue or green 
tunic with yellow drapery. On the early sarcophagi, 
and in the most ancient church mosaics, he bears mere- 
ly a scroll or book, and, except in the character of the 
head, he is exactly like St. Paul : a little later we find 
him with the cross in one hand, and the Gospel in the 
other. The keys in his hand appear as his peculiar 
attribute about the eighth century. I have seen him 
with one great key, but in general he carries two keys, 
one of gold and one of silver, to absolve and to bind ; 
or, according to another interpretation, one is of gold 
and one of iron, opening the gates of heaven and hell : 
occasionally, but rarely, he has a third key, expressing 
the dominion over heaven and earth and hell.* 

St. Paul presents a striking contrast to St. Peter, in 
features as in character. There must have existed 
effigies of him in very early times, for St. Augustine 
says that a certain Marcellina, living in the second cen- 
tury, preserved in her Lararium, among her household 
gods " the images of Homer, Pythagoras, Jesus Christ, 
and Paul the apostle." Chrysostom alludes to a por- 
trait of Paul which hung in his chamber, but unfortu- 
nately he does not describe it. The earliest allusion to 
the personal appearance of St. Paul occurs in Lucian, 
where he is styled, in a tone of mocking disparagement, 
" the bald-headed Galilean with a hook-nose." The 
description given by Nicephorus, founded, we may pre- 
sume, on tradition and on the existing portraits, has 
been the authority followed in the early representations. 
According to the ancient tradition, Paul was a man of 
small and meagre stature, with an aquiline nose, a high 
forehead, and sparkling eyes. In the Greek type the 
face is long and oval, the nose aquiline, the forehead 
high and bald, the hair brown, the beard long, flowing 

* Aa in the mosaic on the tomb of Otho II (Lateran Mus.) 


and pointed, and of a dark brown (in the Greek for- 
mula it IS said that his beard should be grayish : I 
recollect no instance of St. Paul with a gray beard) ; 
his dress is like St. Peter's, a blue tunic and white 
mantle ; he has a book or scroll in one hand, sometimes 
twelve rolls, which designate his epistles. He bears the 
sword, his attribute in a double sense ; it signifies the 
manner of his martyrdom, and it is emblematical of 
the good fight fought by the faithful Christian, armed 
with " the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of 
God." (Ephes. vi. 17.) The life of St. Paul, after his 
conversion, was, as we know, one long spiritual com- 
bat : " perplexed, but not in despair ; cast down, but 
not destroyed." 

These traditional characteristic types of the features 
and persons of the two greatest apostles were long ad- 
hered to. We find them most strictly followed in the 
old Greek mosaics, in the early Christian sculpture, and 
the early pictures ; in all which the sturdy dignity and 
broad rustic features of St. Peter, and the elegant con- 
templative head of St. Paul, who looks like a Greek 
philosopher, form a most interesting and suggestive 
contrast. But, in later times, the old types, particular- 
ly in the head of St. Paul, were neglected and degraded. 
The best painters took care not to deviate wholly from 
the square head and short gray beard of St. Peter; 
but, from the time of Sixtus IV., we find substituted 
for the head of St. Paul an arbitrary representation, 
which varied accoi-ding to the model chosen by the 
artist, — which was sometimes a Roman porter or a 
German boor ; sometimes the antique Jupiter or the 
bust of a Greek rhetorician. 

I shall now give some examples, in chronological 
order, of the two great apostles represented together, as 
Pounders of the Church. 

On the early sarcophagi (from A. t>. 321 to 400), St. 

Peter and St. Paul stand on each side of the Saviour. 

The former bears a cross, and is generally on the left 

hand of Christ. The cross given to Peter, and often 



Bet with jewels, is supposed to refer to the passage in 
St. John xxi. 19, "Signifying by what death he 
should die " : but it may surely bear another interpre- 
tation, i. e. the spirit of Christianity transmitted to all 
nations by the first and greatest of the apostles. St. 
Paul carries a roll of writing ; he has a very high bald 
forehead : in other respects the two apostles are not 
particularly discriminated ; they wear the classical cos- 
tume.* Similar figures of Peter and Paul occur on 
the ancient glass drinking-vessels and lamps preserved 
in the Vatican ; but the workmanship is so rude, that 
they are merely curiosities, and cannot be cited as 

Mosaic (Rome, a. d. 44.3) in Santa Maria Maggiore, 
over the arch which separates the sanctuary from the 
nave. We liave in the centre a throne, on which lies 
the roll, sealed with seven seals ; above the throne rises 
a cross set with precious stones ; on each side of the 
throne, St. Peter and St. Paul ; they have no attributes, 
are habited in classical draperies, and the whole repre- 
sentation is strictly anticjue in style, without a trace of 
any of the characteristics of Medifeval Art. This is 
the oldest representation I have met with next to those 
on the sarcophagi. 

Mosaic (Rome, 6th century) in the church of Santa 
Sabina on the interior of the arch over the door. We 
find on one side St. Peter, on the other St. Paul. Un- 
der St. Peter stands a graceful female figure, veiled, 
and inscribed Ecclesia ex circumcisione ; under St. Paul, 
a female figure, crowned, and inscribed Ecclesia ex gen- 

Mosaic (Rome, a. d. 526) in St. Cosmo and St. 
Damian, on the vault of the apsis. Christ stands in 
the centre, sustained by clouds ; his right hand is raised 
in the attitude of one who exhorts (not blessing, as is 
the usual manner) ; the left hand holds the book of 
life ; at his feet flows the river Jordan, the symbol 
of Baptism. On each side, but lower down and much 

• Bottari, Tab. xxv. 


smaller in size, stand St. Peter and St. Paul ; they seem 
to present St. Cosmo and St. Damian to the Saviour. 
Beyond these again, on either side, stand St. Theodore 
and the pope (Felix I.) who dedicated the church. 
Palm-trees, and a Phcenix crowned with a staiTy glory, 
emblems of Victory and Immortality, close this majes- 
tic and significant composition on each side. Here St. 
Peter and St. Paul are dignified figures, in which the 
Greek type is strongly characterized ; they wear long 
white mantles, nacl have no attributes. 

Mosaic (Milan, 9th century) in Sant Ambrogio. 
Christ enthroned presents the Gospel to St. Paul, and 
the two keys to St. Peter. 

Mosaic (a. D. 936) on the tomb of Otho II. St. 
Peter and St. Paul together, rather more than half 
length, and above life size. St. Peter has three keys, 
suspended on a ring; St. Paul, the book and sword. 
The original mosaic is preserved in the Vatican, and a 
copy is in the Lateran. This relic is, as a document, 

Mosaic (a. d. 1216 - 1227), in the apsis of the old 
basilica of St. Paul. Christ is seated on a throne, 

with the cruciform glory and his name I C. XC. : the 
right hand gives the benediction in the Greek form ; he 
holds in his left an open book, inscribed venite bene- 


34.) On the left, St. Peter with his right hand raised 
to Christ, and an open scroll in his left hand, inscribed 
Tu Es CHRiSTUS FiLius DEI vivi. On the other side 
of Christ, St. Paul; his right hand on his breast, and 
in his left a scroll with these words, in nomine jesu 
OMNE genu flectatur ccelestium terrestrium 
ET iNFERNOROM. (Phil. xi. 10.) Beyond St. Peter 
stands his brother St. Andrew ; and beyond St. Paul 
his favorite disciple Luke. At the foot of the throne 
kneels a diminutive figure of the pope, Honorius 
III., by whom the mosaic was dedicated. Palm- 
trees close the composition on each side ; underneath 


runs the frieze of the Twelve Apostles, described at 
p. 176. 

Mosaic {12th century) in the Cathedral of Monreale 
at Palermo. St. Peter and St. Paul are seated on 
splendid thrones on each side of the tribune ; St. Peter 
holds in his left hand a book, and the right, which gives 
the benediction, holds also the two keys: over his head 
is inscribed sanctus peteus peinceps apostoloeum 


Paul holds the sword with the point upwards like a 
sceptre, and the book as usual : the intellectual Greek 
character of the head is strongly discriminated. The 
inscription is, sanctus paulus pb-edicatok verita- 

TIS ET doctor gentium GENTI. 

Among the rich and curious bas-reliefs in front of 
the church of St. Trophime at Aries, we have St. Peter 
and St. Paul seated together receiving the souls of the 
just. Each has two souls in his lap, and the Archan- 
gel Michael is bringing another. 

In pictures, their proper place, as I have observed, is 
on each side of the throne of the Eedeemer, or on 
each side of the Virgin and Child : sometimes they are 
standing together, or reading in the same book. 

This must suflBce for the devotional treatment of St. 
Peter and St. Paul, when represented as joint founders 
and patrons of the universal Christian Church. Before 
I notice those historical subjects in which they appear 
together, I have to say a few words of the manner in 
which they are treated separately and distinctly. And 
first of St. Peter. 

The various events of the life of St. Peter are re- 
corded in the Gospels and the Acts so minutely, that 
they may be presumed to be familiar to all readers. 
From these we may deduce his character, remarkable 
for fervor and energy, rather than sustained po^^er. His 
traditional and legendary history is full of incidents, 
miracles, and wonderful and picturesque passages. His 


importance and popularity, considered as Prince of the 
Apostles and Founder of the Church of Rome, have 
extended with the influence of that powerful Church 
of which he is the head and representative, and mul- 
tiplied, almost to infinitude, pictures and effif,nes of him 
in his individual character, as well as historical repre- 
sentations of his life and actions, wherever his para- 
mount dignity is admitted. 

It struck me, when wandering over the grand old 
churches of Ravenna, where the ecclesiastical mosaics 
are the most ancient that exist, and still in wonderiul 
preservation, that St. Peter and St. Paul do not often 
appear, at least are in no respect distinguished fi-om the 
other apostles. Ravenna, in the fifth century, did not 
look to Rome for her saints. On the other hand, 
among the earliest of the Roman mosaics, St. Peter is 
sometimes found sustaining the throne of Christ, with- 
out his companion St. Paul ; as in S. Maria-in-Traste- 
vere, S. Maria Xuova, and others. At Rome, St. Peter 
is the Saint, the Santissimo. The secession of the Prot- 
estant Church dimmed his glory as Prince of the Apos- 
tles and universal Saint ; he fell into a kind of disrepute 
as identified with the See of Rome, which exposed his 
effigies, in England and Scotland particularly, to a 
sweeping destruction. Those were disputatious days ; 
and Peter, the affectionate, enthusiastic, devoted, but 
somewhat rash apostle, veiled his head to the intellect- 
ual, intrepid, subtle philosopher Paul. 

Let us now see how Art has placed before us the 
sturdy Prince of the Apostles. 

I have already mentioned the characteristic type 
which belongs to him, and his prevalent attributes, — the 
key, the cross, the book. When he figures among the 
disciples in the Gospel stories, he sometimes holds the 
fish as the symbol of his original vocation : if the fish 
be given to him in single devotional figures, it signifies 
also Christianity, or the rite of Baptism. 

The figures of St. Peter standing, as Apostle and 


Patron Saint, with book and keys, are of such perpet- 
ual occurrence as to defy all attempts to particularize 
them, and so familiar as to need no further illustra- 

Representations of him in his peculiar character of 
Head and Founder of the Roman Church, and first 
universal bishop, are less common. He is seated on a 
throne ; one hand is raised in the act of benediction ; 
in the other he holds the keys, and sometimes a book or 
scroll, inscribed with the text, in Latin, " Thou art 
Peter, and on this rock have I built my Church." This 
subject of the throned St. Peter is very frequent in the 
older schools. The well-known picture by Giotto, 
painted for Cardinal Stefanesciii, now in the sacristy 
of the Vatican, is very fine, simple, and solemn. In a 
picture by Cima da Conegliano,t St. Peter is not only 
throned, but wears the triple tiara as pope ; the coun- 
tenance is particularly earnest, fervent, almost fiery in 
expression : the keys lie at his feet ; on one side stands 
St. John the Baptist, on tlie other St. Paul. 

As a deviation from the usual form of this sub- 
ject, I must mention an old bas-relief, full of charac- 
ter, and significantly appropriate to its locality, — the 
church of San Pietro-in-Vincoli, at Rome. St. Peter, 
enthroned, holds in one hand the keys and the Gos- 
pel ; with the other he presents his chains to a kneel- 
ing angel : this unusual treatment is very poetical and 

Tliere are standing figures of St. Peter wearing the 
papal tiara, and brandishing his keys, — as in a picture 
by Cola dell' Amatrice. And I should think Milton 

* One of the finest I have ever seen is the " St. Pierre au Dona- 
teur," by GauJenzio Ferrari ; holding his keys (both of gold), he 
presents a kneeling votary, a man of middle age, who probably 
bore his name. The head of St. Peter is very characteristic, and 
has an energetic pleading expression, almost demanding what he 
requires for his votary. The whole picture is extremely fine. 
{Turin Gallery, No. 19.) 

t Milan, Brera. (No. 189.) 



had some such picture in his remembrance when he 
painted his St. Peter : — 

" Last came and last did go 
The pilot of the Galilean Lake ; 
Two massy keys he bore of metals twain, 
(The golden opes,' the iron shuts amain,) 
H« shook his mitred locks, and stern bespake." 

When, in devotional pictures, St. Peter is accompan- 
ied by another apostle with no distinctive attriiiutes, we 
may suppose it to be St. Mark, who was his'interpreter, 
companion, and amanuensis at Eome. According to 
an early tradition, the Gospel of St. Mark was written 
down from the dictation of St. Peter.* In a miniature 
frontispiece to St. Mark's Gospel, the evangelist is 
seated writing, and St. Peter stands opposite, as if dic- 
tating, la a picture by Angelico,t Peter is preaching 
from a pulpit to a crowd of people : Mark, seated on 
one side is diligently taking down his words. In a 
very fine picture by Bonvicino J they stand together ; 
St. Peter is reading from a book; St. Mark holds a 
scroll and inkhorn ; he is submitting to St. Peter Irlie 
Gospel he has just penned, and which was afterwards 
confirmed by the apostle. 

Lastly, a magnificent Venetian picture § represents 
St. Peter throned as bishop, with an earnest and rather 
stern countenance ; he holds a book in his hand; two 
angels with musical instruments are seated on the steps 
of his throne : on his right hand stand John the Bap- 

* " What St. Clement says is to this purpose : That St. Peter's 
hearers at Rome were desirous of having his sermons writ down 
for their use ; that they made their request to Mark to leave them 
a written memorial of the doctrine they had received by word of 
mouth ; that they did not desist from their entreaties till they had 
prevailed upon him ; and St. Peter confirmed that writing by his 
authority, that it might be read in the churches." — Lardner, 
Cred., vol. 1. p. 250. 

t Fl. Gal. 

J: Brera, Milan. 

§ Giau Bellini: Venice. S. M. de' Frari. 


tist, and St. Jerome as cardinal ; on his left St. Am- 
brose ; while St. Mark beuds over a book, as if reading 
to this majestic auditory. 

Those scenes and incidents related in the Gospels in 
which St. Peter is a principal or conspicuous figure, I 
shall enlarge upon when treating of the life of Christ, 
and will only indicate a few of them here, as illustrat- 
ing the manner in which St. Peter is introduced and 
treated in such subjects. 

We have, first, the Calling of Peter and Andrew in 
a picture by Basaiti,* where the two brothers are kneel- 
ing at the feet of the Saviour ; the fishing-boats and the 
Lake of Genesareth in the background : and in the 
beautiful fresco by Ghirlandajo in the Sistine Chapel, 
where a number of contemporary personages are intro- 
duced as spectators. St. Andrew presenting St. Peter 
to our Saviour (as in a picture by Cavalucci, in the Vat- 
ican), is another version of the same subject ; or St. 
Andi-ew is seen at the feet of Christ, while St. Peter is 
sitting on the edge of the boat, or descending from it iu 

" Christ walking on the Sea " is a familiar and pic- 
turesque subject, not to be mistaken. The most ancient 
and most celebrated representation is Giotto's mosaic 
(a. d. 1298), now placed in the portico of St. Peter's, 
over tlie arch opposite to the principal door. The sen- 
timent in the composition of this subject is, generally, 
" Lord, help me ; or I perish " : St. Peter is sinking, 
and Christ is stretching out his hand to save him. 
It is considered as a type of the Church in danger, 
assailed by enemies, and saved by the miraculous 
interposition of the Redeemer ; and in this sense must 
the frequent representations in churches be under- 

In the " Miraculous Draught of Fishes," St. Peter 
is usually on his knees looking up with awe and grati- 
tude : " Depart from me, O Lord ! for I am a sinful 

* Vienna Gal. 


man." The composition of Raphael (the cartoon at 
Hampton Court) is just what we should seek for in 
Raphael, a masterpiece of dramatic expression, — the 
significant, the poetical, the miraculous predominating. 
The composition of Rubens, at Malines, which deserves 
the next place, should be looked at in contrast, as 
an instance of the ])icturesqae and vigorous treatment 
equally characteristic of the painter ; — all life and re- 
ality, even to tlie glittering fish which tumble in the 
net. " St. Peter finding the tribute money," is a sub- 
ject I have seldom met with : the motif is simple, and 
not to be mistaken. 

In all the scenes of the life of our Saviour in which 
the apostles are assembled, — in the Transfiguration, in 
the Last Supper, in the " Washing the Feet of the 
Disciples," in the scene of the agony and the betrayal 
of Christ, — St. Peter is introduced as a more or less 
prominent figure, but always to be distinguished from 
the other apostles. In the third of these subjects, the 
wasliing of the feet, St. Peter generally looks up at 
Cln-ist with an expression of humble expostulation, his 
hand on his head : the sentiment is, " Not my feet 
only, but my hands and my head." 

In the scene of the betrayal of Christ, St. Peter cut- 
ting off the ear of Malchus is sometimes a too promi- 
nent group ; and I remember an old German print in 
which St. Peter having cut off the ear, our Lord bends 
down to replace it.* 

" St. Peter denying the Saviour " is always one of 
the subjects in the series of the Passion of Christ. It 
occurs frequently on the ancient sarcophagi as the 
symbol of repentance, and is treated with classical and 
sculptural simplicity, the cock being always introduced : 
it is here to be understood as a general emblem of hu- 
man weakness and repentance. As an action separate- 
ly, or as one of the series of the life and actions of Pe- 
ter, it has not been often painted ; it seems to have 
been avoided in general by the early Italian painters as 

* Bartsch, vi. 92. 


derogatory to the character and dignity of the apostle. 
The only examples I can recollect are in the later Ital- 
ian and Flemish scliools. Teuiers has adopted it as a 
vehicle for a guard-room scene ; soldiers playing at 
cards, hright armor, &c. Eenil)randt has taken it as 
a vehicle for a fine artificial light ; and, for the same 
reason, the Caravaggio school delighted in it. The 
maiden, whose name in the old ti'aditions is Balilla, is 
always introduced with a look and gesture of i^eproach, 
and the cock is often perched in the background. 

" Christ turned and looked upon Peter " : of this 
beautiful subject, worthy of Raphael himself, I can re- 
member no instance. 

The " Repentance of Peter " is a subject seldom 
treated in the eai-lier schools of Italy, but frequently by 
the later painters, and particularly by the Bologna 
school ; in some instances most beautifully. It was a 
subject peculiarly suited to the genius of Guercino, who 
excelled in the expression of prolbund rather than ele- 
■wated feeling. 

There is a manner of representing the repentance of 
Peter which seems peculiar to Spanisli Art, and is more 
ideal than is usual with that school. Christ is bound 
to a column and crowned with thorns ; St. Peter kneels 
before him in an attitude of the deepest anguish and 
humiliation, and appears to be supplicating forgiveness. 
Except in the Spanish school, I have never met with 
this treatment. The little picture by Murillo* is an 
exquisite example ; and in the Spanish Gallery are 
two others, by Pedro de Cordova and Juan Juanes : 
in the former, St. Peter holds a pocket-handkerchief 
with which he has been wiping his eyes, and the cock 
is perched on the column to which our Saviour is 

Another ideal treatment we find in a picture by 
Guercino ; St. Peter is weeping bitterly, and opposite 
to him the Virgin is seated in motionless grief. 

Half-length figures of St. Petei; looking up with an 

* " Le Christ i la Colonne, " Louvre. 6b0. 


expression of repentant sorrow, and wrino;ing his hands, 
are of frequent ofcurrence, more especially in the later 
followers of the Bologna and Neapolitan schools of the 
seventeenth century : Ribera, Lanfranco, Caravaggio, 
and Valentin. In most of these instances, the total 
absence of ideal or elevated sentiment is striking ; — 
any old bearded beggar out of the streets, who could 
cast up his eyes and look pathetic, served as a model. 

I recollect no picture of the Crucifixion in which St. 
Peter is present. 

"The delivery of the keys to Peter" and "the 
Charge to Peter," (Feed my sheep,) either in separate pic- 
tures or combined into one subject, hav'e been of course 
favorite themes in a Church which founds its authority 
on these particular circumstances. The bas-i-elief over 
the princij)al door of St. Peter's at Rome represents 
the two themes in one : Christ delivers the keys to 
Peter, and the sheep are standing by. In the panels 
of the bronze doors beneath (a. d. 14.31) we have the 
chain of thought and incident continued ; Peter delivers 
the emblematical keys to Pope Eugenius IV. 

It is curious that, while the repentance of Peter is a 
frequent subject on the sarcophagi of the fourth cen- 
tury, the delivery of the keys to Peter occurs but once. 
Christ, as a beardless youth, presents to Peter two keys 
laid crosswise one over the other. Peter, in whose 
head the traditional type is most distinctly marked, has 
thrown his pallium over his outstretched hands, for, 
according to the antique ceremonial, of which the early 
sculpture and mosaics afford us so many examples, 
things consecrated could only be touched with covered 
hands. This singular example is engraved in Bottari.* 
An example of beautiful and solemn treatment in paint- 
ing is Perugino's fresco in the Sistine Chapel. It con- 
tains twenty-one figures ; the conception is quite ideal, 
the composition regular even to formality, yet striking 

* Tab. xxi. 


and dramatic. In the centre, Peter kneeling on one 
knee, receives the keys from the hand of the Saviour ; 
the apostles and disciples are arranged on each side, 
behind Christ and St. Peter ; in the background is the 
rebuilding of the Temple ; — a double allegory : " De- 
stroy this temple, I will build it up in three days " : 
and also, perhaps, alluding to the building of the 
chapel by Sixtus IV. 

In Kaphael's cartoon * the scene is an open plain : 
Christ stands on the right ; in front, St. Peter kneels, 
with the keys in his hand ; Christ extends one hand to 
Peter, and with the other points to a flock of sheep in 
the background. The introduction of the sheep into 
this subject has been criticised as at once too literal 
and too allegorical, — a too literal transcript of the 
words, a too allegorical version of the meaning ; but I 
do not see how tlie words of our Saviour could have 
been other^\^se rendered in painting, which must speak 
to us through sensible objects. The other apostles, 
standing behind Peter, show in each countenance the 
different manner in which they are affected by the 
words of the Saviour. 

By Gian Bellini : a beautiful picture :t St. Peter 
kneeling, half length, receives the keys from Jesus 
Christ, seated on ii throne. Behind St. Peter stand 
the three Christian graces, Faith, Hope, and Charity. 
Poussin has taken this subject in his series of the Seven 
Sacraments, \ to represent the sacrament of Ordination. 
In this instance again, the two themes are united ; and 
we must also remember, that the allegorical representa- 
tion of the disciples and followers of; Christ as sheep 
looking up to be fed, is consecrated by the practice of 
the earliest schools of Christian Art. Rubens has ren- 
dered the subject very simply, in a picture containing 
only the two figures, Christ and St. Peter ; § and again 
with five figures, less good || Numerous other exam- 

* Hampton Court. t Madrid Gal., No. 114. 

I Bridgewater Gal. § Cathedral at Malinea. 

II Gal. of the Hague. 



pies might be given ; but the subject is one that, how- 
ever treated, cannot be easily mistaken. 

A very ideal version of this subject is where St. 
Peter kneels at the feet of the Madonna, and the Infent 
Christ, bending from her lap, presents the keys to him ; 
as in a singularly fine and large composition by Crivelli,* 
and in another by Andrea Salaino. Another, very beau- 
tiful and curious, is in the possession of Mr. Bromley 
of Wootten.t 

After the ascension of our Saviour, the personal his- 
tory of St. Peter is mingled first with that of St. John, 
and afterwards with that of St. Paul. 

" Peter and John healing the lame man at the gate 
called Beautiful " is the subject of one of the finest of 
tlie cartoons at Hampton Court. Perin del Vaga, 
Niccolo Poussin, and others less renowned, have also 
treated it ; it is susceptible of much contrast and dra- 
matic efl:ect. 

'■ The sick are brought out and placed in the shadow 
of Peter and John that they may be healed," by Ma- 

" Peter preaching to the early converts " : the two 
most beautiful compositions I have seen, are the simple 
group of Masaccio ; and another by Le Sueur, full of 
variety and sentiment. 

" Peter and John communicate the Holy Ghost by 
laying their hands on the disciples," by Vasari.^ I do 
not well remember this picture. 

The Vision of Peter : three angels sustain the curtain 
or sheet which contains the various forbidden animals, 
as pigs, rabbits, &c. (as in a print after Guercino). 

" Peter baptizes the Centurion " (very appropriately 

* This picture, formerly in the Brera, is now in England, in the 
gallery of Lord Ward. It is the finest and most characteristic 
specimen of the master I have ever seen. 

t It is signed Medula, and attriljut^d to Giulio delta Mendula j 
a painter (except through this picture) unknown to me. 

t Brancacci Chapel, Florence. § Berlin Gal., 313. 


placed in tlie baptistery of the Vatican). St. Peter 
meets the Centurion; he blesses the family of the 
Centurion. All commonplace versions of very inter- 
esting and picturesque subjects. 

" The Death of Ananias." Raphael's cartoon of 
this awful scene is a masterpiece of dramatic and scenic 
power ; never was a story more admirably and com- 
pletely told in painting. Those who had to deal with 
the same sulyect, as if to avoid a too close comparison 
with his unapproachable excellence, have cliosen the 
death of Sapphira as the motif: as, for example, 
Niccolo Poussin.* 

" Dorcas or Tabitha restored to life." One of the 
finest and most effective of Guercino's pictures, now in 
the Palazzo Pitti : the simple dignity of the apostle, 
and the look of sick amazement in the face of the 
woman restored to consciousness, show how strong 
Guercino could be when he had to deal with natural 
emotions of no elevated kind. The same subject, by 
Costanzi, is among the great mosaics in St. Peter's. 
" The Death of Dorcas," by Le Sueur, is a beautiful 
composition. She lies extended on a couch ; St. Peter 
and two other apostles approach the foot of it : the poor 
widows, weeping, show to St. Peter the garments which 
Dorcas had made for them, (Acts ix. 39.) 

The imprisonment of Peter, and his deliverance by 
the Angel, were incidents so important, and offer such 
obvious "points of dramatic effect, that they have been 
treated in every possible variety of style and sentiment, 
from the simple formality of the early mosaics, where 
the two figures — Peter sitting on a stool, leaning his 
head on his hand, and the Angel at his side — express 
the story like a vision.t down to the scenic and archi- 
tectural compositions of Steenwick, where, amid a vast 
perspective of gloomy vaults and pillars, a diminutive 

* Louvre, 685. 

t As in the Greek mosaics ia the Cathedral of Monreale, near 


St. Peter, with an Angel or a sentinel placed some- 
where in the foreground, just serves to give the picture 
a name.* 

Some examples of this subject are of gi'cat ce- 

Masaccio, in the frescos of the Brancacci Chapel, 
has represented Peter in prison, looking through his 
grated window, and Paul outside communing with 
him. (The noble figure of St. Paul in this fresco was 
imitated by Raphael in the " St. Paul preaching at 
Athens.") In the next compartment of the series, 
Masaccio has given us the Angel leading forth Peter, 
while the guard sleeps at the door : he sleeps as one 
oppressed with an unnatural sleep. Raphael's fresco 
in the Vatican is not one of his best, but he has seized 
on the obvious point of effect, both as to light and 
grouping ; and we have three separate moments of the 
same incident, which yet combine most happily into one 
grand scene. Thus in the centre, over the window, we 
see through a grating the interior of the prison, where 
St. Peter is sleeping between two guards, who, leaning 
on their weapons, are sunk in a deep charmed slumber ;t 
an angel, whose celestial radiance fills the dungeon with 
a flood of light, is in the act of waking the apostle : on 
the right of the spectator, the angel leads the apostle 
out of the prison ; two guards are sleeping on the 
steps : on the left, the soldiers are roused from sleep, 
and one with a lighted torch appears to be giving the 
alarm ; the crescent moon faintly illumines the back- 

The deliverance of St. Peter has always. been con- 
sidered as figurative of the deliverance of the Church ; 
and the two other frescos of this room, the Heliodorus 
and the Attila, bear the same interpretation. It is 

* Several such pictures are in the royal collections at Windsor 
and Hampton Court. 

t Moore makes a characteristic remark on this fresco : he is 
amazed at the self-denial of the painter, who could cross this fine 
group with the black iron bars which represent the prison. 


worth while to compare this dramatic composition of 
Raphael with others wherein the story is merely a 
vehicle for artificial effects cf light, as in a picture by 
Gerard Honthorst ; or treated like a supernatural 
vision, as by that poet Rembrandt. 

Those historical subjects in which St. Peter and 
t. Paul 
St. Paul. 

St. Paul figure together will be noticed in the life of 

I come now to the legendary stories connected with 
St. Peter ; — an inexhaustible source of popular and 
pictorial interest. 

Peter was at Jerusalem as late as a. d. 52 ; then at 
Antioch ; also in Babylon : according to the most an- 
cient testimonies he was at Rome about a. d. 63 ; but 
the tradition, that he resided as bishop in the city of 
Rome for twenty-five years, first related by Jerome, 
seems questionable.* Among the legendary incidents 
which marked his sojourn in Rome, the first, and the 
most important, is tlie story of Simon Magus. 

Simon, a famous magician among the Jews, had 
astonished the whole city of Jerusalem by his won- 
derful feats ; but his inventions and sorceries were 
overcome by the real miracles of Peter, as the Egyp- 
tian magi had been conquered by Aaron. He offered 
the apostles money to buy the secret of their power, 
which Peter rejected with indignation. St. Augustine 
tells us, as a characteristic trait of the fiery-spirited 
apostle, that " if he had fallen on the traitor Simon, he 
would certainly have torn him to pieces with his teeth- " 

* Some Protestant writers have set aside St. Peter's ministry at 
Borne as altogether apocryphal ; but Gieseler, an author by no 
means credulous, considers that the historical evidence is in favor 
of the tradition, (d. Text-book of Eccles. Hist., p. 53.) This is the 
more satisfactory, because, even to Protestants, it is not agreeable 
to be at Rome and to be obliged to reject certain associations 
which add to the poetical as well as to the religious interest of 
the place. 


The magician, vanquished by a superior power, flung 
his books into the Dead Sea, broke his wand, and fled 
to Rome, where he became a great favorite of the Em- 
peror Claudius, and afterwards of Nero. Peter, bent 
on counteracting the wicked sorceries of Simon, fol- 
lowed him to Rome. About two years after his arrival 
he was joined there by the Apostle Paul. Simon 
Magus having asserted that he was himself a god, and 
could raise the dead, Peter and Paul rebuked his im- 
piety, and challenged him to a trial of skill in presence 
of the emperor. The arts of the magician failed ; Peter 
and Paul restored the youth to life : and on many other 
occasions Simon was vanquished and put to shame by 
the miraculous power of the apostles. At length he 
undertook to fly up to heaven in sight of the emperor 
and the people ; and, crowned with laurel, and supported 
by demons, he flung himself from a tower, and ap- 
peared for a while to float thus in the air : but St. 
Peter, foiling on his knees, commanded the demons to 
let go their hold, and Simon, precipitated to the ground, 
was dashed to pieces. 

This romantic legend, so popular in the middle 
ages, is founded on some antique traditions not wholly 
unsupported by historical testimony. 
 There can be no doubt that there existed in the first 
century a Simon, a Samaritan, a pretender to divine 
authority anil supernatural powers ; who, for a time, 
had many followers; who stood in a certain relation to 
Christianity ; and who may have held some opinions 
more or less similar to those entertained by the most 
famous heretics of the early ages, the Gnostics. Ire- 
naius calls this Simon the father of all heretics. " All 
those," he says, " who in any way corrupt the truth, or 
mar the preaching of the Church, are disciples and suc- 
L-essors of Simon, the Samaritan magician." Simon 
gave himself forth as a god, and carried about with 
him a beautiful woman named Helena, whom he repre- 
sented as the first conception of his — that is, of the 
divine — mind, the symbol or manifestation of that 


portion of spirituality which had become entangled in 

Tiie incidents of the story of Simon Magus have 
been often and variously treated. 

1. By Quintin Matsys : Peter refuses the offer of 
Simon Magus, — " Thy money perish with thee ! " 
Here Peter wears the mitre of a bishop : the picture 
is full of coarse but natural expression. 

2. " Peter and Paul accused before Nero " : the 
fresco in the Brancacci Chapel, attributed by Kuglcr 
to Filippino Lippi, is certainly one of the most perfect 
pieces of art, as a dramatic composition, which we 
have before the time of Raphael. To the right the 
emperor is seated on his throne, on each side his min- 
isters and attendants. The countenances are finely 
varied ; some of them animated by attention and curi- 
osity, others sunk in deep thought. The two apostles, 
and their accuser Simon Magus, are in front. Simon, 
a magnificent figure, who might serve for a Prospero, 
lays his hand on the vest of Peter, as if to drag him 
forward ; Paul stands aside with quiet dignity ; Peter, 
with a countenance full of energetic expression, points 
contemptuously to the broken idol at his feet. For the 
felicity and animation with which the story is told, and 
for propriety, grace, and grandeur, Eaphael has not 
often exceeded this picture. 

3. Another of the series of the life of Peter in the 
Brancacci Chapel is the resuscitation of the youth, who 
in the legend is called the nej^hew of the emperor ; a 
composition of nimierous figures. In the centre stands 
St. Peter, and before him kneels the youth ; a skull and 
a few bones are near him — a naive method of express- 
ing his return from death to life. The variety of ex- 
pression in the countenances of the assembled specta- 
tors is very fine. According to the custom of the 
Florentine school at that time, many are portraits of 

* He represented her as a resuscitation of the famous Helen of 
Troy, which is said to have suggested to Goethe the resuscitatioa 
of Helena in the second part of Faust. 



distinguished persons ; and, considering that the fresco 
was painted at a period most interesting in the Floren- 
tine history (a. d. 1440), we have much reason to re- 
gret that tliese can no longer he discriminated. 

4. "The Fall of Simon Magus" is a favorite and 
picturesque subject, often repeated. A most ancient 
and most curious version is that on the walls of the 
Cathedral at Assisi, older than the time of Giotto, and 
attributed to Giunta Pisano. (a. d. 12.32.) On one 
side is a pyramidical tower formed of wooden bars; 
Peter and Paul are kneeling in front ; the figure of the 
magician is seen floating in the air and sustained by 
hideous demons ; — very dreamy, poetical, and fanci- 
ful. In Mr. Ottley's collection I saw a small ancient 
picture of the same subject, very curious, attributed to 
Benozzo Gozzoli. Raphael's composition in the Vati- 
can has the simplicity of a classical bas-relief, — a style 
which does not appear suited to this romantic legend. 
The picture by L. Caracci at Naples I have not seen. 
Over one of the altars of St. Peter we now see the 
great mosaic, after Vanni's picture of this subject; a 
clever commonplace treatment : the scene is an amphi- 
theatre, the emperor above in his balcony ; Peter and 
Paul in front, invoking the name of Christ, and Simon 
Magus tumbling headlong, forsaken by his demons ; in 
the background sit the vestals. Battoni's great picture 
in the S. Maria degli Angeli at Rome is considered 
his best production ; it is full of well-studied academic 
drawing, but scenic and mannered. 

The next subject in the order of events is styled the 
" DoMiNE, QUO VADis ? " After the burning of 
Rome, Nero threw upon the Christians the accusation 
of having fired the city. This was the origin of the 
first persecution, in which many perished by terrible 
and hitherto unheard of deaths. The Christian con- 
verts besought Peter not to expose his life, which was 
dear and necessary to the well-being of all; and at 
length he consented to depart from Rome. But as 


he fled along the Appian Way, about two miles from 
the gates, he was met by a vision of our Saviour travel- 
ling towards the city. Struck witii amazement, he ex- 
claimed, " Lord 1 whither goest thou ? " to which the 
Saviour, looking upon him with a mild sadness, replied, 
"I go to Rome to be crucified a second time," and van- 
ished. Peter, taking this for a sign that he was to 
submit himself to the sufferings prepared for him, im- 
mediately turned back, and re-entered the city. Michael 
Angelo's famous statue, now in the church of S. Maria- 
sopra-Minerva at Rome, is supposed to represent Christ 
as he appeared to Peter on this occasion ; and a cast 
or copy of it is in the little church of "Domine, quo 
vadis V " erected on the spot sanctified by this mysteri- 
ous meeting. 

It is surprising that this most beautiful, picturesque, 
and, to my fancy, sublime legend has been so seldom 
treated ; and never, as it appears to me, in a manner 
worthy of its capabilities and its high significance. It 
is seldom that a whole story can be told by two figures, 
and these two figures placed in such grand and dramat- 
ic contrast ; Christ in his serene majesty, and radiant 
with all the glory of beatitude, yet with an expression 
of gentle reproach ; the apostle at his feet, arrested iu 
his flight, amazed, and yet filled with a trembling joy ; 
and for the background the wide Campagna or the tow- 
ering walls of imperial Rome ; — these are grand ma- 
terials ; but the pictures I have met with are all inef- 
fective in conception. The best fall short of the sub- 
lime ideal ; most of them are theatrical and common- 

Raphael has interpreted it in a style rather too clas- 
sical for the spirit of the legend ; with great simplicity 
and dignity, but as a fact, rather than a vision conjured 
up by the stricken conscience and tenderness of the 
affectionate apostle. The small picture by Annibal 
Caracci in our National Gallery is a carefully finished 
academical study and nothing more, but may be re- 
ferred to as a fair example of the usual mode of trea^ 


Peter returned to Eome, persisted in his appointed 
work, preaching and baptizing ; was seized with St. 
Paul and thrown into the Mamertine dungeons under 
the Capitol. The two centurions who guarded them, 
Processus and JMartinian, and many of the criminals 
confined in the same prison, were converted by the 
preaching of the apostle ; and there being no water to 
baptize them, at the prayer of St. Peter a fountain 
sprang up from the stone floor ; which may be seen at 
this day. 

" The Baptism of St. Processus and St. Martinian 
in the Dungeon," by Trevisani, is in the l)aptistery of 
St. Peter's at Rome ; they afterwards suffered for the 
faith, and were canonized. In the same church is the 
scene of their martyrdom by Valentino ; they are seen 
bound and stretched on a hurdle, the head of one to 
the feet of the other, and thus beaten to death. The 
former picture — the Baptism — is commonplace ; the 
latter, terrible for dark and effective expression ; it is 
just one of those subjects in which the Caravaggio 
school delighted. 

A few days after their incarceration, St. Peter and 
St. Paul were condemned to death. According to one 
tradition, St. Peter suffered martyrdom in the Circus 
of Caligula at the foot of the Vatican, and was cruci- 
fied between two metiu, i. e. the goals or terminte in 
the Circus, round which the chariots turned in the race ; 
but, according to another tradition, he was put to death 
in the court-yard of a barrack or military station on 
the summit of Mons Janicula, where the church of San 
Pietro in Montoreo now stands ; that is, on an eminence 
above the site of the Circus of Caligula. At his own 
request, and that his death might be even more painful 
and ignominious than that of his Divine Master, he was 
crucified with his head downwards. 

In the earliest representations I have met with,* St. 
Peter is raised on the cross with his head downwards, 

* MS., Vatican, No 5409, 10th century. 


and wears a long sliirt which is fastened round his 
ankles. In the picture of Giotto,* the local circum- 
stances, according to the first tradition, are carefully 
attended to : we have the cross erected between the 
two met£e, and about twenty soldiers and attendants ; 
among them a woman who embraces the foot of the 
cross, as the Magdalene embraces the cross of the 
Saviour. Above are seen angels, who bear the soul 
of the martyred saint in a glory to heaven. Masac- 
cio's composition t is very simple ; the scene is the 
court-yard of a military station (according to the sec- 
ond tradition). Peter is already nailed upon a cross ; 
three executioners are in the act of raising it with cords 
and a pulley to suspend it against a great beam of 
wood ; there are several soldiers, but no women, pres- 
ent. In Guide's composition J there are only three 
figures, the apostle and two executioners ; it is cele- 
brated as a work of art, but it appeared to me most in- 
effective. On tiie other hand, Kuliens has gone into 
the opposite extreme ; there are only three persons, the 
principal figure filling nearly the whole of the canvas : 
it is full of vigor, truth, and nature ; but the brutality 
of the two executioners, and the agony of the aged 
saint, too coarsely and painfully literal. These simple 
representations of the mere act or fact should be com- 
pared with the fresco of jMichael Angelo,§ in which the 
event is evolved into a grand drama. Here tiie scene 
is evidently the summit of the Mons Janiculum : in the 
midst of a crowd of soldiers and sjiectators, St. Peter 
lies nailed to the cross, which a number of men are ex- 
erting their utmost strength to raise from the ground. 

The legend which makes St. Peter the keeper of the 
gate of Paradise, with power to grant or refuse admls- 
Bion, is founded on the delivery of the keys to Peter. 

* In the sacristy of the Vatican. 

t la the Bnincacci Chapel at Florence. 

J In the Galle-y of the Vatican. ' 

§ Tatican. Capella Paolina 


In most of the pictures which represent the entrance of 
the blessed into Paradise or the New Jerusalem, Peter 
stands with his keys near the gate. There is a beauti- 
ful example in the great fresco of Simon Memmi in the 
chapel de' SpagnuoU at Florence : St. Peter stands at 
the open portal with his great key, and two angels 
crown with garlands the souls of the just as they enter 
joyously hand in hand. 

The legend of St. Petronilla, the daughter of St. 
Peter (in French, Sainte Pernelle), has never been 
popular as a subject of art, and I can remember no 
series of incidents from the life of St. Peter in which 
she is introduced, except those in the Carmine at Flor- 
ence. It is apparently a Roman legend, and either 
unknown to the earliest artists, or neglected by them. 
It is thus related : — 

" The Apostle Peter had a daughter born in lawful 
wedlock, who accompanied him in his journey from the 
East. Being at Rome with him, she fell sick of a 
grievous infirmity which deprived her of the use of her 
limbs. And it happened that as the disciples were at 
meat with him in his house, one said to him, ' Master, 
how is it that thou, who healest the infirmities of others, 
dost not heal thy daughter Petronilla ? ' And St. Peter 
answered, ' It is good for her to remain sick ' : but, that 
they might see the power that was in the word of God, 
he commanded her to get up and serve them at table, 
which she did ; and having done so, she lay down again 
helpless as before ; but many years afterwards, being 
perfected by her long suffering, and praying fervently, 
she was healed. Petronilla was wonderfully fair ; and 
Valerius Flaccus, a young and noble Roman, who was 
a heathen, became enamored of her beauty, and sought 
her for his wife ; and he being very powerful, she feared 
to refuse him ; she therefore desired him to return in 
three days, and promised that he should then carry her 
home. But she prayed earnestly to be delivered from 
this peril ; and when Flaccus returned in three days 


with great pomp to celebrate the marriage, he found 
her dead. The company of nobles who attended him 
carried her to the grave, in which they laid her, crowned 
with roses ; and Flaccus lamented greatly."* 

The legend places her death in the year 98, that 
is, thirty-four years after the death of St. Peter ; but 
it would be in vain to attempt to reconcile the dates 
and improbabilities of this story. 

St. Peter raising Petronilla from her sick-bed is one 
of the subjects by Masaccio in the Brancacci Chapel. 
The scene of her entombment is the subject of a once 
celebrated and colossal picture by Guercino : the copy 
in mosaic is over the altar dedicated to her in St. 
Peter's : in front, and in the lower part of the picture, 
she is just seen as they are letting her down into the 
grave, crowned with roses ; behind stands Flaccus with 
a handkerchief in his hand, and a crowd of spectators : 
in the upper part of the picture Petronilla is already in 
Paradise, kneeling, in a rich dress, before the feet of 
Christ, having exchanged an earthly for a lieavenly 
bridegroom. This great picture exhibits, in a surpass- 
ing degree, the merits and defects of Guercino ; it is 
effective, dramatic, deeply and forcibly colored, and 
arrests attention : on the other hand, it is coarse, 
crowded, vulgar in sentiment, and repugnant to our 
better taste. There is a standing figure of Petronilla 
in the Duomo at Lucca, by Daniel di Volteri-a, very 

* v.W perfetto Legendario. 

t There was aa oratory in the church of the Franciscans at 
Tarallo, in which they celebrated a yearly festival in honor of St. 
Petronilla. While Gaudenzio Ferrari was painting there the series 
of frescos in the chapel of the crucifixion on the Sacro Monte, he 
promised to paint for the festival an effigy of the saint. The eve 
of the day arrived, and still it was not begun : the people mur- 
mured, and reproached him, which he affected to treat jestingly ; 
but he- arose in the nij-'ht, and with no other light than the beams 
of the full moon, executed a charming figure of St. Petronilla, 
which still exists. She stands holding a book, a white veil over 
her head, and a yellow mantle falling in rich folds : she has no 


The life of St. Peter, when represented as a series, 
generally comprises the following subjects, commencing 
with the first important incident after the Ascension of 

1. Peter and John heal the lame man at the Beau- 
tiful Gate. 2. Peter heals the paralytic Eneas. 3. 
Peter raises Tabitha. 4. The angel takes off the 
chains of Peter, b. He follows the angel out of the 
prison. 6. St. Peter and St. Paul meet at Rome. 7. 
Peter and Paul before Xero are accused by Simon Ma- 
gus. 8. The fall of Simon Magus. 9. The crucifix- 
ion of St. Peter. This example is taken from the 
series of mosaics in the Cathedral of Monreale, at 

Tlie fine series of frescos in the Brancacci Chapel 
at Florence is differently arranged ; thus: 1. The trib- 
ute-money found in the fish by St. Peter. 2. Peter 
preaching to the converts. 3. Peter baptizes the con- 
verts. In this fresco, the youth, who has thrown off 
his garments and is preparing for baptism, is famous 
as the first really graceful and well-drawn undraped 
figure which had been produced since the revival of 
Art. 4. Peter and John heal the cripple at the Beau- 
tiful Gate, and Petronilla is raised from her bed. 5. 
Peter in his prison is visited by Paul. 6. Peter deliv- 
ered by the angel. 7. The resuscitation of the dead 
youth. 8. The sick are laid in the way of Peter and 
John, " that at the least the shadow of Peter passing 
by might overshadow some of them." 9. Peter and 
John distribute alms ; a dead figure lies at the feet of 
the apostles, perhaps Ananias. The situation of the 

distinctive emblem. " Gaudenzio che in una bella notte d' estate 
dipinse fra ruvide muraglie una Santa tutta grazia e pudore nientre 
uu pallido raggio di luaa sbucato dalla frondosa cliioma d' albero 
dolcemente gl' irradia la fronte calva e la barba rossiccia, presenta 
un non so che di ideale e di romanzesco che veramente rapisce." 
— Opera di Gaudenzio ?eiTari, No. 21. (ilaggi, Turin. It is to 
be regretted that in this valuable work neither the pages nor the 
plates are numbered.) 


fresco is very dark, so that it is difBcult to distinguish 
the action and expression of the figures. 10. Peter 
and Paul accused before Nero. 11 The crucifixion 
of Peter. 

In St. Peter's at Rome, we have of course every 
scene from tlie hfe of the apostle whicli could well be 
expressed by Art ; but none of these are of great 
merit or interest : most of them are from the schools 
of the seventeenth century. 

St. Paul, though called to the apostleship after the 
ascension of the Saviour, takes rank next to St. Peter 
as one of the chief witnesses of the Christian faith. 
Of all the apostles he is the most interesting ; the one 
of whose personal character and history we know most, 
and through the most direct and irrefragable testimony. 
The events of his life, as conveyed in the Acts and 
the Epistles, are so well known, that I need not here 
particularize them. The legends connected with him 
are very few. 

The earliest single figure of St. Paul to which I can 
refer was found painted on the walls of the cemetery 
of Priscilla, near Rome.* He stands, with outstretched 
arms, in the act of prayer ; (in the early ages of Chris- 
tianity the act of supplication was expressed in the 
classical manner, that is, not with folded hands, but 
with the arms extended ;) he has the nimlms ; his dress 
is that of a traveller, the tunic and pallium being short, 
and his feet sandalled, perhaps to indicate his many 
and celebrated travels ; perhaps, also, it repi-csents Paul 
praying for his flock before he departed from INIacedon 
to return to Jerusalem (Acts xx.) : over this ancient 
figure, which, though ill drawn, is quite classical in 
sentiment and costume, is inscribed paulus . pastor . 
APOSTOLOS ; on his right hand stands the Good Shep- 
herd, in reference to the title of pastor, inscribed over 
his effigy. Another figure of St. Paul, which appeari 

* Second or third century. Bosio, p. 519. 


to be of later date, but anterior to the fifth centurj, 
was found in the catacombs at Naples : in this effigy- 
he wears the dress of a Greek philosopher ; the style 
in which the drapery is worn recalls the time of Ha- 
drian : he has no nimbus, nor is the head bald ; he has 
sandals on his feet : over his head is inscribed his 
name, Paclus ; near him is a smaller figure similarly 
draped, who offers liira fruit and flowers in a vase ; 
probably the personage who was entombed on the spot. 

At what period the sword was given to St. Paul as 
his distinctive attribute is with antiquaries a disputed 
point ; certainly, much later than the keys were given 
to Peter.* If we could be sure that the mosaic on the 
tomb of Otho II., and another mosaic ah-eady described, 
had not been altered in successive restorations, these 
would be evidence that the sword was given to St. 
Paul as his attribute as early as the sixth century ; but 
there are no monuments which can be absolutely trusted 
as regards the introduction of the swoixl before the end 
of the eleventh century ; since the end of the fourteenth 
century, it has been so generally adopted, that in the 
devotional effigies I can remember no instance in which 
it is omitted. When St. Paul is leaning on the sword, 
it expresses his martyrdom ; when he holds it aloft, it 
expresses also his warfare in the cause of Christ : when 
two swords are given to him, one is the attribute, the 
other the emblem ; but this double allusion does not 
occur in any of the older representations. In Italy I 
never met with St. Paul bearing two swords, and the 
only instance I can call to mind is the bronze statue 
by Peter Vischer, on the shrine of St. Sebald, at Nu- 

Although devotional representatio,ns of St. Paul sep- 
arate from St. Peter and the other apostles occur very 
rarely, pictures from his life and actions are commonly 
met with ; the principal events are so familiar, that 
they are easily recognized and discriminated even by 

* V. Munter's Sinnbilder, p. 35. 


the most unlearned in Biblical illustration : considered 
and treated as a series, they form a most interesting 
and dramatic succession of scenes, often introduced 
into the old churches ; but the incidents chosen are 
not always the same. 

Paul, before his conversion, was present at the ston- 
ing of Stephen, and he is generally introduced holding 
on his knees the garments of the executioners. In 
some ancient pictures, he has, even while looking on 
and " consenting to the death " of the victim, the glory 
round his head, as one who, while " breathing out 
threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the 
Lord," was already " a chosen vessel to bear His name 
before the Gentiles." But in a set of pictures which 
relate expressly to St. Paul the martyrdom of Stephen 
is, with proper feeling, omitted, and the series generally 
begins with the Conversion of Paul, — in his char- 
acter of apostle, the first great event in his life. An 
incident so important, so celebrated, and in all its ac- 
cessories so picturesque and dramatic, has of course 
been a frequent subject of artistic treatment, even as a 
separate composition. In some of the old mosaics, 
the story is very simply, and at the same time vividly, 
rendered. In the earliest examples, St. Paul has the 
nimbus or glory while yet unconverted ; he is prostrate 
on the ground, grovelling on his hands and knees ; 
rays of light fall upon him out of heaven, where the 
figure of Christ, half length, is seen emerging from 
glory ; sometimes it is a hand oidy, which is the em- 
blem of the Almighty Power ; two or four attendants 
at most are flying in terror. It is not said in Scripture 
that St. Paul journeyed on horseback from Jerusalem 
to Damascus ; but the tradition is at least as old as 
the time of Pope Palmasius (a. d. 384), as it is then 
referred to. St. Augustine says he journeyed on foot, 
because the Pharisees made a point of religion to go 
on foot, and it is so represented in the old Greek mo- 
saics. The expression, " It is hard for thee to kick 
against the pricks," has been oddly enough assigned as 


a reason for placing Paul on horseback ; * at all events, 
as he bore a military command, it has been thought 
proper in later times so to represent him, and also as 
suiTOunded by a numerous cortege of attendants. This 
treatment admits, of course, of endless variety, in the 
disposition and number of the figures, in the attitudes 
and expression ; but the moment chosen is generally 
the same. 

1. The oldest example I can cite, next to the Greek 
mosaics, is an old Italian print mentioned by Zani. 
Paul, habited as a Roman warrior, kneels with his arms 
crossed on his breast, and holding a scroll, on which is 
inscribed in Latin, " Lord, what shall I do "? " Christ 
stands opposite to him, also holding a scroll, on which 
is written, " Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me f " 
There ai-e no attendants. Zani docs not give the date 
of this quaint and simple version of the story. 

2. Raphael. Paul, habited as a Roman soldier, is 
lying on the ground, as thrown from his horse ; he looks 
upward to Christ, who appears in the clouds, attended 
by thi-ee child-angels : his attendants on foot and on 
horseback are represented as rushing to his assistance, 
unconscious of the vision, but panic struck by its effect 
on him : one attendant in the background seizes by the 
bridle the terrified horse. The original cartoon of this 
fine composition (one of the tapestries in the Vatican) 
is lost. 

3. Michael Angelo. Paul, a noble figure, though 
prostrate, appears to be struck motionless and sense- 
less : Christ seems to be i-us/ting down from heaven 
surrounded by a host of angels ; those of the attend- 
ants who are near to Paul are flying in all directions, 
while a long train of soldiers is seen ascending from 
the background. This grand dramatic composition 
forms the pendant to the Crucifixion of Peter in the 
Capella Paolina. It is so darkened by age and the 
smoke of tapers, and so ill lighted, that it is not easily 

* V. Zani. Enc. delle Belle Arti. 


made out ; but there is a fine engraving, which may be 

4. Another very celebrated composition of this sub- 
ject is that of Rubens.* Paul, lying in the foreground, 
expresses in his attitude the most helpless and grovel- 
ling prostration. The attendants appear very literally 
frightened out of their senses ; and the gray horse 
snorting and rearing behind is the finest part of the 
picture : as is usual with Rubens, the effects of physi- 
cal fear and amazement are given with the utmost 
spirit and truth ; but the Scriptural dignity, the super- 
natural terrors of the subject, are ill expressed, and the 
apostle himself is degraded. To go a step lower, Cuyp 
has given us a Conversion of St. Paul apparently for 
the sole purpose of introducing horses in diti'erent atti- 
tudes : the favorite dapple-gray charger is seen bound- 
ing off in terror ; no one looks at St. Paul, still less to 
Christ above, — but the horses are admirable. 

5. In Albert Diirer's print, a shower of stones is fall- 
ing from heaven on St. Paul and his company. 

6. There is a very curious and unusual version of 
this subject in a rare print by Lucas van Leyden. It 
is a composition of numerous figures. St. Paul is seen, 
blind and bewildered, led between two men ; another 
man leads his frightened charger ; several warriors and 
horsemen follow, and the whole procession seems to be 
proceeding slowly to the right. In the far distance is 
represented the pi-evious moment, — Paul struck down 
and blinded by the celestial vision. 

" Paul, after his conversion, restored to sight by 
Ananias," as a separate subject, seldom occurs ; but it 
has been treated in the later schools by Vasari, by 
Cavallucci, and by P. Cortona. 

" The Jews flagellate Paul and Silas " ; I know but 
one picture of this subject, that of Nicolo Poussin : the 
angry Jews are seen driving them forth with scourges ; 

* In the gallery of Mr. Miles, at Leigh Court. 



the Elders, who have condemned them, are seated in 
council behind : as we mit^ht expect from the character 
of Poussin, the dignity of the apostles is maintained, — 
but it is not one of his best pictures. 

" Paul, after his conversion, escapes from Damas- 
cus " ; he is let down in a basket (Acts ix. 25) : the 
incident forms, of course, one of the scenes in his life 
when exhibited in a series, but I remember no separate 
picture of this subject, and the situation is so ludicrous 
and so derogatory that we can understand how it came 
to be avoided. 

" The ecstatic vision of St. Paul, in which he was 
caught up to the third heaven." (2 Cor. xii. 2.) Paul, 
who so frequently and familiarly speaks of angels, in 
describing this event makes no mention of them, but in 
pictures he is represented as borne upwards by angels. 
I find no early composition of this subject. The 
small picture of Domenichino is coldly conceived. 
Poussin has painted the " Ravissement de St. Paul " 
twice ; in the first, the apostle is borne upon the arms 
of four angels, and in the second he is sustained by 
three angels. In rendering this ecstatic vision, the 
angels, always allowable as machinery, have here a 
particular propriety ; Paul is elevated only a few feet 
above the roof of his house, where lie his sword and 
book. Here the sword serves to distinguish the per- 
sonage ; and the roof of the house shows us that it is a 
vision, and not an apotheosis. Both pictures are in the 

" Paul preaching to the converts at Ephesus." In a 
beautiful Raffaelesque composition by Le Sueur, the 
incident of the magicians bringing their books of sor- 
cery and burning them at the feet of the apostle is well 
mtroduced. It was long the custom to exhibit this 
picture solemnly in Notre Dame every year on the 1st 
of May. It is now in the Louvre. 



" Paul before Felix," and " Paul before Agrippa." 
Neither of these subjects has ever been adequately 
treated. It is to me inconceivable that the old masters 
so completely overlooked the opportunity for grand 
characteristic delineation afforded by both these scenes, 
the latter especially. Perhaps, in estimating its capa- 
bilities, we are misled by the effect produced on the 
imagination by the splendid eloquence of the apostle ; 
yet, were another Raphael to arise, I would suggest the 
subject as a pendant to the St. Paul at Athens. 

" Paul performs miracles before the Emperor Nero " ; 
a blind man, a sick child, and a possessed woman are 
brought to him to be healed. This, though a legendary 
rather than a Scriptural subject, has been treated by Le 
Sueur with Scriptural dignity and simplicity." 

" The martyrdom of St. Paul " is sometimes a sepa- 
rate subject, but generally it is the pendant to the 
martyrdom of St. Peter. According to the received 
tradition, the two apostles suffered at tlie same time, 
but in different places ; for St. Paul, being by birth a 
Roman citizen, escaped the ignominy of the public ex- 
posure in the Circus, as well as the prolonged torture 
of the cross. He was beheaded by the sword outside 
the Ostian gate, about two miles from Rome, at a place 
called the Aqua Salvias, now the " Tre Fontane." 
The legend of the death of St. Paul relates that a cer- 
tain Roman matron named Plautilla, one of the con- 
verts of St. Peter, placed herself on the road by which 
St. Paul passed to his martyrdom, in order to behold 
him for the last time ; and when she saw him, she 
wept greatly, and besought his blessing. The apostle 
then, seeing her faith, turned to her and begged that 
she would give him her veil to bind his eyes when he 
should be beheaded, promising to return it to her after 
his death. The attendants mocked at such a promise, 
but Plautilla, with a woman's faith and charity, taking 
off her veil, presented it to him. After his martyrdom, 
St. Paul appeared to her, and restored the veil stained 


with his blood. It is also related, that when he was 
decapitated the severed head made three bounds upon 
the earth, and wherever it touched the gi'ound a foun- 
tain sprang forth. 

In the most ancient representations of the martyrdom 
of St. Paul, the legend of Piautilla is seldom omitted. 
In the picture of Giotto preserved in the sacristy of St. 
Peter's, Piautilla is seen on an eminence in the back- 
ground, receiving the veil from the hand of Paul, who 
appears in the clouds above ; the same representation, 
but little varied, is executed in bas-relief on the bronze 
doors of St. Peter's. The three fountains gushing up 
beneath the severed head are also frequently represented 
as a Hteral fact, though a manifest and beautiful alle- 
gory, figurative of the fountains of Christian faith 
which should spring forth from his martyrdom. 

In all the melancholy vicinity of Rome, there is not 
a more melancholy spot than the " Tre Fontane." A 
splendid monastery, rich with the offerings of all 
Christendom, once existed there : the ravages of that 
mysterious scourge of the Campagna, the malaria, have 
rendered it a desert ; three ancient churches and some 
ruins still exist, and a few pale monks wander about 
the swampy dismal confines of the hollow in which 
they stand. In winter you approach them through 
a quagmire ; in summer you dare not breathe in 
their pestilential vicinity ; and yet there is a sort of 
dead beauty about the place, something hallowed as 
well as sad, which seizes on the fancy. In the church 
properly called " San Paolo delle Tre Fontane," and 
which is so old that the date of the foundation is un- 
known, are three chapels with altars raised over as 
many wells or fountains ; the altars are modern, and 
have each the head of St. Paul carved in relief. The 
water, which appeared to me exactly the same in all 
the three fountains, has a soft insipid taste, neither 
refreshing nor agreeable. The ancient frescos have 
perished, and the modern ones are perishing. It is a 
melancholy spot. 


To return, however, to that event which has rendered 
it for ages consecrated and memorable. Among the 
many representations of the decollation of St. Paul 
which exist in sculpture and in painting, I have not 
met with one which could take a high place as a work 
of art, or which has done justice to the tragic capabili- 
ties of the subject. 

After his martyrdom the body of St. Paul was in- 
terred on a spot between the Ostian gate and the Aqua 
Salvias, and there arose the magnificent church known 
as San VAo\o-fuori-l€-mura. I saw this church a few 
months before it was consumed by fire in 1823 ; I saw 
it again in 1847, when the restoration was far advanced. 
Its cold magnificence, compared with the impressions 
left by the former structure, rich with inestimable re- 
mains of ancient art, and venerable from a thousand 
associations, saddened and chilled me. 

The mosaics in the old church, which represented 
the life and actions of St. Paul, were executed by the 
Greek mosaic masters of the eleventh century. They 
appear to have comprised the same subjects which still 
exist as a series in the church of Monreale near Pa- 
lermo, and which I shall now describe. 

1. Saul is sent by the high-priest to Damascus. 
Two priests are seated on a raised throne in front of 
the Temple ; Saul stands before them. 

2. The Conversion of Saul, as already described. 

3. Saul, being blind, is led by his attendants to the 
gate of Damascus. 

4. Saul seated. Ananias enters and addresses him. 

5. Paul is baptized : he is standing, or rather sitting, 
in a font, which is a large vase, and not much larger 
in proportion than a punch-bowl. 

6. St. Paul disputes with the Jews. His attitude is 
vehement and expressive : three Jewish doctors stand 
before him as if confounded and put to silence by his 
eloquent reasoning. 

7. St. Paul escapes from Damascus ; the basket, in 
which he is lowered down from a parapet, i$ about the 
size of a hand-basket. 


8. St. Paul delivers a scroll to Timothy and Silas ; 
he consigns to their direction the deacons that were or- 
dained by the apostles and elders. (Acts xvi. 4.) 

9. St. Paul and St. Peter meet at Rome, and em- 
brace with brotherly affection. I believe this subject 
to represent the reconciliation of the two apostles after 
the dispute at Antioch. The inscription is, Hie Paulus 
venit Romam et paceni fecit cum Petro. (In the Ciu-is- 
tian Museum in the Vatican there is a most beautiful 
small Greek picture in which Peter and Paul are em- 
bracing ; it may represent the reconciliation or the 
parting : the heads, though minute, are extremely 

10. Tlie decollation of St. Paul at the Aqua Sal- 
vias ; one fountain only is introduced. 

Tiiis is the earliest instance I can quote of the dra- 
matic treatment of the life and actions of St. Paul in 
a series of subjects. The Greek type of the head of 
St. Paul is retained throughout, strongly individualized, 
and he appears as a man of about thirty-five or forty- 
In the later schools of art, which afford some celebrated 
examples of the life of St. Paul treated as series, the 
Greek type has been abandoned. 

The series by Raphael, executed for the tapestries 
of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican, consists of five 
large and seven small compositions. 

1. The conversion of Saul, already described : the 
cartoon is lost. 2. Elymas the sorcerer struck blind : 
wonderful for dramatic power. 3. St. Paul and Bar- 
nabas at Lystra. -*. Paul preaching at Athens. Of these 
three magnificent compositions we have the cartoons at 
Hampton Court. 5. St. Paul in prison at Philippi. 
The earthquake through which he was liberated is here 
represented allegorically as a Titan in the lower corner 
of the picture, with shoulders and arms heaving up the 
earth. This, which strikes us as rather pagan in con- 
ception, has, however, a parallel in the earliest Chris- 
tian Art, where, in the baptism of Christ, the Jordan 
is sometimes represented by a classical ri^er-god, sedge- 
crowned, and leaniug on bis urn. 


The seven small subjects, which in the set of tapes- 
tries run underneath as borders to the large composi- 
tions, are thus arranged : 

1. "As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, en-^ 
tering into every house, and haling men and women 
committed them to prison." (Acts viii. 3.) At one 
end of a long narrow composition Saul is seated in the 
dress of a Roman warrior, and attended by a lictor ; 
they bring before him a Christian youth ; farther on 
are seen soldiers "haling men and women" by the 
hair ; others flee in terror. This was erroneously sup- 
posed to represent the massacre at Prate, in 1512, by 
the adherents of the Medici, and is so inscribed in the 
set of engravings by Bartoli and Landon. 

2. John and Mark taking leave of the brethren at 
Perga in Pamphylia. (Acts xiii. 3.) 

3. Paul, teaching in the synagogue at Antioch, con- 
founds the Jews. (Acts xviii. 3.) 

4. Paul at Corinth engaged in tent-making with his 
host. This is an uncommon subject, l)ut I remember 
another instance in a curious old German print, where, 
in the lower part of the composition, the apostle is 
teaching or preaching ; and above there is a kind of 
gallery or balcony, in which he is seen working at a 
loom : " You yourselves know that these hands have 
ministered to my necessities, laboring night and day, 
because we would not be chargeable unto you." (Acts 
xviii. 6.) 

5. Being at Corinth, he is mocked by the Jews. 
(Acts viii. 12.) 

6. He lays his hand on the Christian converts. 

7. He is brought before the judgment-seat of Gal- 

" Paul, in the island of Melita, shaking the viper 
from his hand," is not a common subject, and yet it 

* Those who consult the engravings by Santi Bartoli and Lan- 
don must bear in mind that almost all the references are errone- 
ous. See Fassavaut's Eafael, ii. '2Ab. 


is capable of the finest picturesque and dramatic ef- 
fects : the storm and shipwreck in the background, 
the angry heavens above, the red firelight, the group 
of astonished mariners, and, pre-eminent among them, 
the calm intellectual figure of the apostle shaking the 
venomous beast from his hand, — these are surely beau- 
tiful and available materials for a scenic picture. Even 
if treated as an allegory in a devotional sense, a single 
majestic figure, throwing the evil thing innocuous from 
him, which I have not yet seen, it would be an excel- 
lent and a significant subject. The little picture by 
Elzheimer is the best example I can cite of the pictu- 
resque treatment. That of Le Sueur has much dig- 
nity ; those of Perino del Vaga, Thornhill, West, are 
all commonplace. 

, Thornhill, as everybody knows, painted the eight 
principal scenes of the life of the apostle in the cupola 
of St. Paul's.* Few people, I should think, have 
strained their necks to examine them ; the eight origi- 
nal studies, small sketches en grisaille, are preserved in 
the vestry, and display that heartless, mindless, man- 
nered mediocrity, which makes all criticism foolishness ; 
I shall, however, give a list of the subjects. 

1. Paul and Barnabas at Lystra. 2. Paul preaching 
at Athens. 3. Elymas struck blind. 4. The converts 
burn their magical books. 5. Paul before Festus. 6. A 
woman seated at his feet ; I presume the Conversion 
of Lydia of Thyatira. 7. Paul let down in a basket. 
8. He shakes the viper from his hand. 

At the time that Thornhill was covering the cupola 
at " the rate of 2/. the square yard," Hogarth, his son- 
in-law, would also try his hand. He painted " St. Paul 
pleading before Felix " for Lincoln's Inn Hall ; where 
the subject, at least, is appropriate. The picture itself 
is curiously characteristic, not of the scene or of the 

* The clergy who permitted Sir James Thornhill to paint the 
cupola of St. Paul's with Scripture scenes refused to admit any 
other paintings into the church. Perhaps they were justified: 
but not by the plea of Bishop Terrick, — the fear of idolatry. 


chief personage, but of the painter. St. Paul loaded 
with chains, and his accuser Tertullus, stand in front ; 
and Fehx, with his wife Drusilla, are seated on a raised 
tribunal in the background ; near Felix is the high- 
priest Ananias. The composition is good. The heads 
are full of vivid expression, — wrath, terror, doubt, 
fixed attention ; but the conception of character most 
ignoble and commonplace. Hogarth was more at 
home when he took the same subject as a vehicle for a 
witty caricature of the Dutch manner of treating sa- 
cred subjects, — their ludicrous anachronisms and mean 
incidents. St. Paul, in allusion to his low stature, is 
mounted on a stool ; an angel is sawing through one 
leg of it ; Tertullus is a barrister, in wig, band, and 
gown ; the judge is like an old, doting justice of 
peace, and his attendants like old beggars. 

In the Florentine Gallery there is a very curious 
series of the lives of St. Peter and St. Paul in eight 
pictures, in the genuine old German style ; fanciful, 
animated, full of natural and dramatic expression, and 
exquisitely finished, — but dry, hard, grotesque, and 
abounding in anachronisms.* 

Among the few separate historical subjects in which 
St. Peter and St. Paul are represented together, the 
most important is the dispute at Antioch, — a subject 
avoided by the earliest painters. St. Paul says, " When 
Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, 
because he was to be blamed." Guido's picture in the 
Brera at Milan is celebrated : Peter is seated, looking 
thoughtful, with downcast eyes, an open book on his 
knees ; Paul, in an attitude of rebuke, stands over 
against him. Tiiere is another example by Rosso : 
here both are standing ; Peter is looking down ; Paul, 
with long hair and beard floating back, and a keen 
reproving expression, " rebukes him to his face." I 

* This series, the most important work of the painter, Hans 
Schaufelein, is not mentioned in Kugler's Handbooli It is en. 
graved in outline in the New Florence Gallery, published in 1837 


presume the same subject to be represented by Lucas 
van Leyden in a rare and beautiful little print, in 
which St. Peter and St. Paul are seated together in 
earnest conversation. St. Peter holds a key in his right 
hand, and points with the other to a book which lies on 
his knees. St. Paul is about to turn the leaf, and his 
right hand appears to rebuke St. Peter : his left foot is 
on the sword which lies at his feet. 

" The Parting of St. Peter and St. Paul before they 
are led to death." The scene is without the gates of 
Rome ; and as the soldiers drag Peter away, he turns 
back to Paul with a pathetic expression. This picture, 
now in the Louvre, is one of Lanfranco's best composi- 

When the crucifixion of St. Peter and the decolla- 
tion of St. Paul are represented together in the same 
picture, such a picture must be considered as religious 
and devotional, not historical ; it does not express the 
action as it really occurred, but, like many pictures of 
the crucifixion of our Saviour, it is placed before us as 
an excitement to piety, self-sacrifice, and repentance. 
We have this kind of treatment in a picture by Niccolo 
deir Abate : t St. Paul kneels before a block, and the 
headsman stands with sword uplifted in act to strike ; 
in the background, two other executioners grasp St. 
Peter, who is kneeling on his cross, and praying fer- 
vently : above, in a glory, is seen the Virgin ; in her 
arms the Infant Clirist, who delivers to two angels 
palm-branches for the martyred saints. The genius of 
Niccolo was not precisely fitted for this class of subjects. 
But the composition is full of poetical feeling. The 
introduction of the Madonna and Child stamps the 
character of the picture as devotional, not historical, — 
jt would otlicrwise be repulsive, and out of keeping 
with the subject. 

* "St. Paul prevents his jailer from killing himself" (Acts 
xvi.) has been lately painted by Claude Halle, and is now in the 
Louvre. (Ecole Fran^aise, 283.) 

\ In the Dresden Gal., 821. 



There is a Martyrdom of St. Peter and St. Paul en- 
graved after Pannigiano,* which I shall notice on 
account of its careless and erroneous treatment. They 
are put to death together ; an executioner prepares to 
decapitate St. Peter, and another drags St. Paul by the 
beard : the incidents are historically false, and, more- 
over, in a degraded and secular taste. These are the 
mistakes that make us turn disgusted from the techni- 
cal facility, elegance, and power of the sixteenth cen- 
tury, to the simplicity and reverential truth of the 

There are various traditions concerning the relics of 
St. Peter and St. Paul. According to some, the bodies 
of the two apostles were, in the reign of Heliogabalus, 
deposited by the Christian converts in the catacombs 
of Rome, and were laid in the same sepulchre. After 
the lapse of about two hundred years, the Greek or 
Oriental Christians attempted to carry them off; but 
were opposed by the Roman Christians. The Romans 
conquered ; and the two bodies were transported to the 
church of the Vatican, where they re])Osed together in a 
magnificent shrine, beneath the church. Among the 
engravings in the work of Ciampini and Bosio are two 
rude old pictures commemorating this event. The first 
represents the combat of the Orientals and the Romans 
for the bodies of the Saints ; in the other, the bodies 
are deposited in the Vatican. In these two ancient 
representations, which were placed in the portico of the 
old basilica of St. Peter, the traditional types may be 
recognized, — the broad, full features, short, curled beard, 
and bald liead of St. Peter, and the oval face and long 
beard of St. Paul. 

Here I must conclude this summary of the lives and 
characters of the two greatest apostles, as they have 
been exhibited in Christian Art ; to do justice to the 
theme would have required a separate volume. One 

* Bartsch, vii 79. 


observation, however, suggests itself, and cannot be 
passed over. The usual type of the head of St. Peter, 
though often ill rendered and degraded by coarseness, 
can in general be recognized as characteristic ; but is 
there among the thousand representations of the Apostle 
Paul one on which the imagination can rest completely 
satisfied 1 I know not one. No doubt the sublimest 
ideal of embodied eloquence that ever was expressed in 
Art is Raphael's St. Paul preaching at Athens. He 
stands there the delegated voice of the true God, the 
antagonist and conqueror of the whole heathen world : 
" Whom ye ignorantly worship, Him declare I unto 
you," — is not this what he says 1 Every feature, nay, 
every fold in his drapery, speaks ; as in the other St. 
Paul leaning on his sword (in the famous St. Cecilia), 
every feature and every fold of drapery meditates. 
The latter is as fine in its tranquil, melancholy grand- 
eur as the former in its authoritative energy : in the 
one the orator, in the other the philosopher, were never 
more finely rendered : but is it, in either, the Paul of 
Tarsus whom we know ? It were certainly both un- 
necessary and pedantic to adhere so closeh' to historic 
fact as to make St. Paul of diminutive stature and St. 
Peter weak-eyed : but lias Raphael done well in wholly 
rejecting the traditional • portrait which reflected to us 
the Paul of Scripture, the man of many toils and many 
sorrows, wasted with vigils, worn down with travel, — 
whose high, bald forehead, thin, flowing hair, and long, 
pointed beard, spoke so plainly the fervent and in- 
domitable, yet meditative and delicate, organization, — 
and in substituting this Jupiter Amnion head, with the 
dark, redundant hair, almost hiding the brow, and the 
fuil, bushy beard 1 This is one of the instances in 
which Raphael, in yielding to the fVishion of his time, 
has erred, as it seems to me, — though I say it with all 
reverence ! The St. Paul rending his garments at 
Lystra, and rejecting the sacrifice of the misguided 
people, is more particularly false as to the character of 
the man, though otherwise so grandly expressive, that 


we are obliged to admire what our better sense — our 
conscience — cannot wholly approve. 

I shall now consider the rest of the apostles in their 
proper order. 

St. Andrew. 

Lat, S. Andreas. Ital. Sant' Andrea. Fr. St. Andre. Patron 
saint of Scotland and of Russia. Nov. 30, a. d. 70. 

St. Andrew was the brother of Simon Peter, and 
the first who was called to the apostleship. Nothing 
further is recorded of him in Scripture : he is after- 
wards merely included by name in the general account 
of the apostles. 

In the traditional and legendary history of St. An- 
drew we are told, that, after our Lord's ascension, when 
the apostles dispersed to preach the Gospel to all na- 
tions, St. Andrew travelled into Scythia, Cappadocia, 
and Bithynia, everywhere converting multitudes to the 
faith. The Russians believe that he was the first to 
preach to the Muscovites in Sarmatia, and thence he 
has been honored as titular saint of the empire of 
Russia. After many sufferings, he returned to Jeru- 
salem, and thence ti'avelled into Greece, and came at 
length to a city of Achaia, called Patras. Here he 
made many converts ; among others, Maxiniilla, the 
wife of the proconsul JEgeus, whom he persuaded to 
make a public profession of Christianity. The pro- 
consul, enraged, commanded him to be seized and 
scourged, and then crucified. The cross on which he 
suffered was of a peculiar form (crux dtcussaia), since 
called the St. Andrew's cross ; and it is expressly said 
that he was not fastened to his cross with nails, but 
with cords, — a circumstance always attended to in the 
representations of his death. It is, however, to be re- 
membered, that, while all authorities agree that he was 
crucified, and that the manner of his crucifixion was 
peculiar, they are not agreed as to the form of hia 

ST. ANDREW. 235 

cross. St. Peter Chrysologos says that it was a tree : 
another author affirms that it was an olive-tree. The 
Abbe' Me'ry remarks, that it is a mistake to give the 
transverse cross to St. Andrew ; that it ought not to 
differ from the cross of our Lord. His reasons are not 
absolutely conclusive : " II suffit pour raontrer qu'ils 
sont ladessus dans I'erreur, de voir la croix veritable de 
St. Andre', conserve'e dans I'Eglise de St. Victor de 
Marseille ; on trouvera qu'elle est a angles droits," 
&c. * Seeing is believing ; nevertheless, the form is 
fixed by tradition and usage, and ought not to be 
departed from, though Michael Angelo has done so in 
the figure of St. Andrew ia the Last Judgment, and 
there are several examples in the Italian masters.f 
The legend goes on to relate, that St. Andrew, on ap- 
proaching the cross prepared for his execution, saluted 
and adored it on his knees, as being already consecrated 
by the sufferings of the Kedeemer, and met his death 
triumphantly. Certain of his relics were brought from 
Patras to Scotland in the fourth centur}-, and since that 
time St. Andrew has been honored as the patron saint 
of Scotland, and of its chief order of knighthood. He 
is also the patron saint of the famous Burgundiaa 
Order, the Golden Fleece ; and of Russia and its chief 
Order, the Cross of St. Andrew. 

Since the fourteenth century, 'St. Andrew is gen- 
erally distinguished in works of art by the transverse 
cross ; the devotional pictures in which he figures as 
one of the series of apostles, or singly as patron saint, 
represent him as a very old man with some kind of 
brotherly resemblance to St. Peter ; his hair and beard 
silver white, long, loose, and flowing, and in general 
the beard is divided ; he leans upon his cross, and 
holds the Gospel in his right hand. 

* Theologie des Peintres. 

t In several ancient pictures and bas-reliefs the cross has the 
usual form, but he is not nailed, — always bound with cords, as in 
the ancient bas-relief over the portal of his church at Vercelli. 


The Ivistorical subjects from the h'fe of St. Andrew, 
treated separately from the rest of the apostles, are 
very few ; his crucifixion is the only one that I have 
found treated before the fifteenth century. On the 
ancient doors of San Paolo, the instrument of his 
martyrdom has the shape of a Y, and resembles a 
tree split down the middle. The cross in some later 
pictures is very lofty, and resembles the rough branches 
of a tree laid transversely. 

I know but two other subjects relating to the life of 
St. Andrew which have been separately treated in the 
later schools of art, — the Adoration of the Cross, and 
the Flagellation. 

" St. Andrew adoring his cross," by Andrea Sacchi, 
is remarkalile for its simplicity and fine expression ; it 
contains only three figures. St. Andrew, half undraped, 
and with his silver hair and beard floating dishevelled, 
kneels, gazing up to the cross with ecstatic devotion ; 
he is addressing to it his famous invocation, — " Salve, 
Croce preziosa ! che fosti consecrata dal corpo del mio 
Die ! " — an executioner stands by, and a fierce soldier, 
impatient of delay, urges him on to death.* 

" St. Andrew taken down from the cross " is a fine 
effective picture by Ribera.t 

When Guido and Domenichino painted, in emula- 
tion of each other, the frescos in the chapel of Sant' 
Andrea in the church of San Gregorio, at Rome, Guido 
chose for his subject the Adoration of the Cross. The 
scene is supposed to be outside the walls of Patras in 
Achaia ; the cross is at a distance in the background ; 
St. Andrew, as he approaches, falls down in adoration 
before the instrument of his martyrdom, consecrated 
by the death of his Lord ; he is attended by one sol- 
dier on horseback, one on foot, and three executioners ; 
a group of women and alarmed children in the fore- 
ground are admirable for grace and feeling, — they are, 
in fact, the best part of the picture. On the opposite 

* Gallery of the Vatican. t Munich, 363. 



wall of the chapel Doraenichino painted the Flagella- 
tion of St. Andrew, a subject most difficult to treat 
effectively, and retain at the same time the dignity of 
the sutFenng apostle, while avoiding all resemblance to 
a similar scene in the life of Christ. Here he is bound 
down on a sort of table ; one man lifts a rod, another 
seems to taunt the prostrate saint ; a lictor drives back 
the people. The group of the mother and frightened 
children, which Domenichino so often introduces with 
little variation, is here very beautiful ; the judge and 
lictors are seen behind, with a temple and a city in the 
distance. When Domenichino painted the same sub- 
ject in the church of Sant' Andrea-della-Valle, he chose 
another moment, and administered the torture after a 
different manner : the apostle is bound by his hands 
and feet to four sliort posts set firmly in the ground ; 
one of the executioners in tightening a cord breaks it 
and falls back ; three men prepare to scourge him with 
thongs : in the foreground we have the usual group of 
the mother and her frightened children. This is a 
composition full of dramatic life and movement, but 
unpleasing. Domenichino painted in the same church 
tlie crucifixion of the saint, and his apotheosis sur- 
mounts the whole. 

All these compositions are of great celebrity in the 
history of Art for color and for expression. Lanzi 
says, that the personages, " if endued with speech, 
could not say more to the ear than they do to the 
eye." But, in power and pathos, none of them equal 
the picture of Murillo, of which we have the original 
study in England.* St. Andrew is suspended on the 
high cross, formed, not of planks, but of the trunks 
of trees laid transversely. He is bound with cords, 
undraped, except by a linen cloth ; his silver hair and 
beard loosely streaming in the air ; his aged counte- 
nance illuminated by a heavenly transport, as he louks 
up to the opening skies, whence two angels of really 
celestial beauty, like almost all Murillo's angels, de- 

* In the collection of Mr. Miles at Leigh Court. 


scend with the crown and palm. In front, to the right, 
is a group of shrinking sympathizing women ; and a 
boy turns away, crying with a truly boyish grief; on 
the left are guards and soldiers. The subject is here 
rendered poetical by mere force of feeling ; there is a 
tragic reality in the wiiole scene, far more effective to 
my taste than the more studied compositions of the 
Italian painters. The martyrdom of St. Andrew, and 
the saint preaching the Gospel, by Juan de Roelas, are 
also mentioned as splendid productions of the Seville 

I think it possible that St. Andrew may owe his 
popularity in the Spanish and Flemish sciiools of art 
to his being the patron saint of the far-famed Burgun- 
dian Order of the Golden Fleece. At the time that 
Constantinople was taken, and the relics of St. Andrew 
dispersed in consequence, a lively enthusiasm for this 
apostle was excited throughout all Christendom. He 
had been previously honored chiefly as the brother of 
St. Peter ; he obtained thenceforth a kind of personal 
interest and consideration. Philip of Burgundy (a. d. 
1433), who had obtained at great cost a portion of the 
precious relics, consisting chiefly of some pieces of his 
cross, placed under the protection of the apostle his 
new order of chivalry, which, according to the pream- 
ble, was intended to revive the honor and the memory 
of the Argonauts. His knights wore as their badge 
the cross of St. Andrew. 

St. James the Great. 

hat. Sanctus Jacobus Major. Ital. San Giacomo, or Jacopo, Mag- 
giore. Fr. St. Jacques Majeur. Spa. Saa Jago, or Santiago. 
i;i Tutelar. Patron saint of Spain. July 25. A. D. 44. 

St. James the Great, or the Elder, or St. James Ma- 
jor, was nearly related to Christ, and, with his brother 
John (the Evangelist) and Peter, he seems to have been 
admitted to particular favor, travelled with the Lord, 


and was present at most of the events recorded in the 
Gospels. He was one of the three who were permitted 
to witness the glorification of Christ on Mount Tabor, 
and one of those who slept during the agony in the 
garden. After our Saviour's ascension, nothing is re- 
corded concerning him, except the fact that Herod slew 
him with the sword. In the ancient traditions he is 
described as being of a zealous and affectionate temper, 
easily excited to anger : of this we have a particular 
instance in his imprecation against the inhospitable Sa- 
raai-itans, for which Christ rebuked him : " Ye know 
not what manner of spirit ye ai'e of The Son of man 
is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them." 
(Luke ix. .55.) 

As Scripture makes no further mention of one so 
distinguished by his zeal and by his near relationship 
to the Saviour, the legends of the middle ages have 
supplied this deficiency ; and so amply, that St. James, 
as St. Jago or Santiago, the military patron of Spain, 
became one of the most renowned saints in Christen- 
dom, and one of the most popular subjects of Western 
Art. Many of these subjects are so singular, that, in 
order to render them intelligible, I must give the le- 
gend at full length as it was followed by the artists of 
the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. 

According to the Spanish legend, the Apostle James 
was the son of Zebedee, an illustrious baron of Galilee, 
who, being the proprietor of ships, was accustomed to 
fish along the shores of a certain lake called Genesa- 
reth, but solely for his good pleasure and recreation : 
fur who can suppose that Spain, that nation of Hidalgos 
and Caballeros, would ever have ciiosen for her patron, 
or accepted as the leader and captain-general of her 
armies, a poor ignoble fisherman 1 It remains, there- 
fore, indisputable, that this glorious apostle, who was 
our Lord's cousin-german, was of noble lineage, and 
worthy of his spurs as a knight and a gentleman ; —' 
so in Dante : 

" Ecco il Bar one 
Per cui laggiCi si visita Galizia." 


But it pleased him, in his great humility, to follow, 
wjiile on earth, the example of his divine Lord, and 
reserve his warlike prowess till called upon to slaughter, 
by thousands and tens of thousands, those wicked 
Moors, the perpetual enemies of Christ and his servants. 
Now, as James and his brother John were one day in 
their father's ship with his hired servants, and were 
employed in mending the nets, the Lord, who was 
walking on the shores of the lake, called them ; and 
they left all and followed him ; and became thencefor- 
ward his most favored disciples, and the witnesses of 
his miracles while on earth. After the ascension of 
Christ, James preached the Gospel in JudiBa ; then he 
travelled over the whole world, and came at last to 
Spain, where he made very few converts, by reason of 
the ignorance and darkness of tlie people. One day, 
as he stood Avith his disciples on the banks of the Ebro, 
the blessed Virgin appeared to him seated on the top 
of a pillar of jasper, and surrounded by a choir of 
angels ; and the apostle having thrown himself on his 
face, she commanded him to build on that spot a chapel 
for her worship, assuring him that all this province of 
Saragossa, though now in the darkness of paganism, 
would at a future time be distinguished by devotion to 
her. He did as the holy Virgin had commanded, and 
this was the origin of a famous church afterwards known 
as that of Our Lady of the Pillar (" Nuestra Senora del 
Pillar"). Then St. James, having founded the Chris- 
tian faith in Spain, returned to Jud;ua, where he preached 
for many years, and perfqrmcd many wonders and mir- 
acles in the sight of the people : and it happened that 
a certain sorcerer, whose name was Hermogenes,* set 
himself against the apostle, just as Simon Magus had 
wickedly and vainly opposed St. Peter, and with the 
like result. Hermogenes sent his scholar Philetus to 
dispute with James, and to compete with him in won- 
drous works ; but, as you will easily believe, he had no 

* Hermogenes was the name of a famous Gnostic teacher and 
philosopher ; thence, I suppose, adopted into this legend. 


chance against the apostle, and, confessing himself van- 
quished, he returned to his master, to whom he an- 
nounced his intention to follow henceforth James and 
his doctrine. Then Hermogenes, in a rage, bound 
Philetus by his diabolical spells, so that he could not 
move hand or foot, saying, " Let us now see if thy 
new master can deliver thee " : and Philetus sent his 
servant to St. James, praying for aid. Then the apos- 
tle took off his cloak, and gave it to the servant to give 
his master; and no sooner had Philetus touched it, 
than he became free, and hastened to throw himself at 
the feet of his deliverer. Hermogenes, more furious than 
ever, called to the demons who served him, and com- 
manded that they sliould bring to him James and Phi- 
letus, bound in fetters; but on their way the demons 
met with a company of angels, who seized upon them, 
and punished them for their wicked intentions, till they 
cried for mercy. Tiien St. James said to them, " Go 
back to him who sent ye, and bring him hither bound." 
And they did so ; and having laid the sorcerer down at 
the feet of St. James, they besouglit him, saying, "Now 
give us power to be avenged of our enemy and thine ! " 
But St. James rebuked them, saying, " Christ hath 
commanded us to do good for evil." So he delivered 
Hermogenes from their hands ; and the magician, being 
utterly confounded, cast his books into the sea, and de- 
sired of St. James that he would protect him against 
the demons, his former servants. Then St. James 
gave him his staff, as the most effectual means of de- 
fence against the infernal spirits ; and Hermogenes 
became a faithful disciple and jireacher of the word 
from that day. 

But the evil-minded Jews, being more and more in- 
censed, took James and bound him, and brought hvm 
before the tribunal of Herod Agrippa ; and one of those 
who dragged him along, touched by the geatleness of 
his demeanor, and by his miracles of mercy, was con- 
verted, and supplicated to die with him : and the apos- 
tle gave him the kiss of peace, saying, " Pax vobis ! " 


and the kiss and the words togetlier have remained as 
a form of benediction in the Church to this day. Then 
they were both beheaded, and so died. 

And the disciples of St. James came and took away 
his body ; and, not daring to bury it, for fear of the 
Jews, they carried it to Joppa, and placed it on board 
of a ship : some say that the ship was of marble, but 
this is not authenticated ; however, it is most certain 
that angels conducted the ship miraculously to the coast 
of Spain* where they arrived in seven days ; and, sail- 
ing through the straits called the Pillars of Hercules, 
they landed at length in Galicia, at a port called Iria 
Flavia, now Padron. 

In those davs there reigned over the country a cer- 
tain queen whose name was Lupa, and she and all her 
people were plunged in wickedness and idolatry. Now, 
having come to shore, they laid the body of the apostle 
upon a great stone, which became like wax, and, re- 
ceiving the body, closed around it : this was a sign that 
the saint willed to remain there ; but the wicked queen 
Lupa was displeased, and she commanded that they 
should harness some wild bulls to a car, and place on 
it the body, with the self-formed tomb, hoping that they 
would drag it to destruction. But in this she was mis- 
taken ; for the wild bulls, when signed by the cross, 
became as docile as sheep, and they drew the body of 
the apostle straight into the court of her palace. When 
Queen Lupa beheld this miracle, she was confounded, 
and she and all her people became Christians. She 
built a magniticent church to receive the sacred re- 
mains, and died in the odor of sanctity. 

But then came the darkness and ruin which during 
the invasion of the Barbarians overshadowed all Spain ; 
an\d the body of the apostle was lost, and no one knew 
where to find it, till, in the year 800, the place of sepul- 
ture was revealed to a certain holy friar. 

Then they caused the body of the saint to be trans- 
ported to Com')ostella ; and, in consequence of the sur- 
prising miracles .vhich graced his shrine, he was honored 


not merely in Galicia, but throughout all Spain. He 
became the patron saint of the Spaniards, and Com- 
postella, as a place of pilgrimage, was renowned 
throuii'hout Europe. From all countries bands of pil- 
grims resorted there, so that sometimes there were no 
less than a hundred thousand in one year The mili- 
tary Order of Saint Jago, enrolled by Don Alphonso 
for tlieir protection, became one of the greatest and 
richest in Spain. 

Now, if I should proceed to recount all the wonder- 
ful deeds enacted by Santiago in behalf of his chosen 
people, they would fill a volume. The Spanish histo- 
rians numl)er tliirty-eight visible apparitions, in which 
this glorious saint descended from heaven in person, 
and took the command of their armies against the 
Moors. The first of these, and the most famous of all, 
I shall now relate. 

In the year of our Lord 939, Iving Ramirez, having 
vowed to deliver Castile from the shameful tribute im- 
posed by the Moors, of one hundred virgins delivered 
annually, collected his troops, and defied their king 
Abdelramau, to battle ; — 

" The king called God to witness, that, came there weal or woe, 
Thenceforth no maiden tribute from out Castile should go. — 
' At least I will do battle on God our Saviour's foe. 
And die beneath my banner before I see it so ! ' " 

Accordingly he cliarged the Moorish host on the 
plain of Alveida or Clavijo : after a furious conflict, 
the Christians were, by the permission of Heaven, de- 
feated, and forced to retire. Night separated the com- 
batants, aud King Ramirez, overpowered with fatigue, 
and sad at heart, flung himself upon his couch and 
slept. In his sleep he beheld the apostle St. Jago, who 
promised to be with him next morning in the field, and 
assured him of victory. The king, waking up from 
the glorious vision, sent for his prelates and officers, to 
whom he related it ; and the next morning, at the head 
of his army, he recounted it to his soldiers, bidding 


them rely on heavenly aid. He then ordered the trum- 
pets to sound to battle. The soldiers, inspired with 
fresh courage, rushed to the fight. Suddenly St. Jago 
was seen mounted on a milk-white charger, and waving 
aloft a white standard ; he led on the Christians, who 
gained a decisive victory, leaving sixty thousand Moors 
dead on the field. This was the famous battle of Cla- 
vijo ; and ever since that day, " Santiago !" has been 
the war-cry of the Spanish armies. 

But it was not only on such great occasions that the 
invincible patron of Spain was pleased to exhibit his 
power : he condescended oftentimes to interfere for the 
protection of the poor and oppressed ; of which I will 
now give a notable instance, as it is related by Pope 
Calixtus II. 

There was a certain German, who with his wife and 
son went on a pilgrimage to St. James of Compostella. 
Having come as far as Torlosa, they lodged at an inn 
there ; and the host had a fair daughter, who, looking 
on the son of the pilgrim, a handsome and a graceful 
youth, became deeply enamored ; but he, being virtu- 
ous, and, moreover, on his way to a holy shrine, refused 
to listen to her allurements. 

Then she thought how she might be avenged for this 
slight put upon her charms, and hid in his wallet her 
father's silver drinking-cup. The next morning, no 
sooner were they departed, than the host, discovering 
his loss, pursued them, accused them before the judge, 
and the cup being found in the young man's wallet, 
he was condemned to be hung, and all they possessed 
was confiscated to the host. 

Then the afflicted parents pursued their way lament- 
ing, and made their prayer and their complaint before 
the altar of the blessed Saint Jago ; and thirty-six days 
afterwards as they returned by the spot where their son 
hung on the gibbet, they stood beneath it, weeping and 
lamenting bitterly. Then the son spoke and said, " 
my mother ! my father ! do not lament for me, foi 



I have never been in better cheer ; the blessed apostle 
James is at my side, sustainino: me and filling me with 
celestial comfort and joy ! " The parents, being aston- 
ished, hastened to the judge, who at that moment was 
seated at table, and the mother called out, " Our son 
lives ! " The judge mocked at tliem : " What sayest 
thou, good woman T thou art beside thyself ! If thy 
son lives, so do those fowls in my dish." And lo ! 
scarcely had he uttered the words, when the fowls (be- 
ing a cociv and a hen) rose up full-feathered, in the 
dish, and the cock began to crow, to the great admira- 
tion of the judge and his attendants.* Then the judge 
rose up from table hastily, and called together the 
priests and the lawyers, and they went in procession to 
the gibbet, took down the young man, and restored 
him to his parents ; and the miraculous cock and hen 
were placed under the protection of the Church, where 
they and their posterity long flourished in testimony of 
this stupendous miracle. 

There are many other legends of St. James ; the 
Spanish chroniclers in prose and verse abound in such ; 
but, in general, they are not merely incredible, but 
puerile and unpoetical ; and I have here confined my- 
self to those which I know to have been ti'eated in 

Previous to the twelfth century, St. James is only 
distinguished among the apostles by his place, wliich is 
the fourth in the series, the second after St. Peter and 
St. Paul. In some instances he is portrayed with a 
family resemblance to Cin-ist, being his kinsman ; the 
thin beard, and the hair parted and flowing down on 
each side. But from the thirteenth century it became 
a fashion to characterize St. James as a pilgrim of 
Compostella : he bears the peculiar long staffs, to which 
the wallet or gourd of water is suspended ; the cloak 
with a long cape, the scollop-shell on his shoulder or 
on his flapped hat. Where the cape, hat, and scallop- 
shells are omitted, the staff, borne as the first of the 

* V. Southey, " Pilgrim of Compostella." 


apostles who departed to fulfil his Gospel mission, re- 
mains his couslant attribute, and by this he may be 
recognized in the Madonna pictures, and when grouped 
with other saints. 

The single devotional figures of St. James represent 
him in two distinct characters : — 

1. As tutelar saint of Spain, and conqueror of the 
Moors. In his pilgrim habit, mounted on a white 
charger, and waving a w^hite banner, with white hair 
and beard streaming like a meteor, — or sometimes 
armed in complete steel, spurred like a knight, his 
casque shadowed by white plumes, — he tramples over 
the prostrate Infidels ; so completely was the humble, 
gentle-spirited apostle of Christ merged in the spirit of 
the religious chivalry of the time. This is a subject 
frequent in Spanish schools. The figure over the high 
altar of Santiago is described as very grand when seen 
in the solemn twilight. 

2. St. James as patron saint in the general sense. 
The most beautiful example I have met with is a pic- 
ture in the Florence Gallery, painted by Andrea del 
Sarto for the Compagnia or Confraternita of Sant' 
Jacopo, and intended to figure as a standard in their 
processions. The Madonna di San Sisto of Kaphael 
was painted for a similar purpose : and such are still 
commonly used in the religious processions in Italy ; 
but they have no longer Raphaels and Andrea-del-Sar- 
tos to paint them. In this instance the picture has a 
particular form, high and narrow, adapted to its espe- 
cial purpose : St. James wears a green tunic, and a 
rich crimson mantle ; and as one of the purposes of the 
Compagnia was to educate poor orphans, they are rep- 
resented by the two boys at his feet. This picture 
suffered from the sun and the weather, to which it had 
been a hundred times exposed in yearly processions ; 
but it has been well restored, and is admirable for its 
vivid coloring as well as the benign attitude and ex- 

3- St. James seated ; he holds a large book bound in 


vellum (the Gospels) in his left hand, and M-ith his 
right points to heaven : by Guercino, in the gallery of 
Count Harrach, at Vienna. One of the finest pictures 
by Guercino I have seen. 

Pictures from the life of St. James singly, or as a 
series, are not common ; but among those which re- 
main to us there are several of great beauty and in- 

In the series of frescos painted in a side chapel of 
the church of St. Antony of Padua (a. d. 1376), once 
called the Capella di San Giaconio, and now San 
Felice, the old legend of St. James has been exactly 
followed ; and though ruined in many parts, and in 
others coarsely repainted, these works remain as com- 
positions amongst the most curious monuments of the 
Trecentisti. It appears that, towards the year 1376, 
Messer Bonifacio de' Lupi da Parma, Cavaliere e 
Marchese di Serana, who boasted of his descent from 
the Queen Lupa of the legend, dedicated this chapel to 
St. James of Spain (San Jacopo di Galizia), and em- 
ployed M. Jacopo Avanzi to decorate it, who no doubt 
bestowed his best workmanship on his patron saint. 
The subjects are thus arranged, beginning with the 
lunette on the left hand, which is divided into three 
compartments : — 

1. Hermogenes sends Philetus to dispute M-ith St. 
James. 2. St. James in his pulpit converts Pliiletus. 
3. Hermogenes sends his demons to bind St. James 
and Philetus. 4. Hermogenes brought bound to St. 
James. 5. He burns his books of magic. 6. Hermo- 
genes and Philetus are conversing in a friendly manner 
with St. James. 7. St. James is martyred.' 8. The 
arrival of his body in Spain in a marble ship steered 
by an angel. 9. The disciples lay the body on a rock, 
while Queen Lupa and her sister and another personage 
look on from a window in her palace. Then follo'\v 
two compartments on the side wnere the window is 
broken out, much ruined ; they represented apparently 
the imprisonment of the disciples. 12. The disciples 


escape and are pursued, and their pursuers with their 
hoi-ses are drowned. 13. The wild bulls draw the 
sarcophagus into the court of Queen Lupa's palace. 
14. Baptism of Lupa. 15. and 16. (lower compart- 
ments to the left) ; St. Jago appears to King Ramirez, 
and the defeat of the Moors at Clavijo. 

There is a rare and curious print by Martin Schoen, 
in which the apparition of St. James at Clavijo is rep- 
resented, not in the Spanish, but the German style. It 
is an animated composition of many figures. The saint 
appears on horseback in the midst, wearing his pilgrim's 
dress, with the cockle-shell in his hat : the Infidels are 
trampled down, or fly before him. 

On the road from Spoleto to Foligno, about four 
miles from Spoleto, there is a small chapd dedicated to 
St. James of Galizia. The frescos representing the 
miracles of the saint were painted by Lo Spagna (a. d. 
1526), the friend and fellow-pupil of Raphael. In the 
vault of the apsis is the Coronation of the Virgin ; she 
kneels, attired in white drapery flowered with gold, and 
the whole group, though inferior in power, apjjeared to 
me in delicacy and taste far superior to the fresco of 
Fi*a Filippo Lippi at Spoleto, from which Passavant 
thinks it is borrowed.* Immediately under the Coro- 
nation, in the centre, is a figure of St. James as patron 
saint, standing with his pilgrim's stafl:' in one hand and 
the Gospel in the other ; his dress is a yellow tunic with 
a blue mantle thrown over it. In the compartment on 
the left, the youth is seen suspended on the gibbet, while 
St. James with his hands under his feet sustains him ; 
the father and mother look up at him with astonish- 
ment. In the compartment to the right, we see the 
judge seated at dinner, attended by his servants, one 
of whom is bringing in a dish : the two pilgrims ap- 
pear to have just told their story, and the cock and hen 
have risen up in the dish. These frescos are paint«d 
with great elegance and animation, and the story is 

* Passavant's Rafael, i. 508. 

ST. PHILIP. 249 

told with much naivete. I found the same legend 
painted on one of the lower windows of the church of 
St. Ouen, and on a window of the right-hand aisle in 
St. Vincent's at Eouen. 

Of St. John-, who is the fifth in the series, I have 
spoken at large under the head of the Evangelists. 

St. Philip. 

Ital. San Filippo Apostolo. Fr. Saint Philippe. Patron of Bra- 
bant and Luxembourg. May 1. 

Of St. Philip there are few notices in the Gospel. He 
was born at Bethsaida, and he was one of the tirst of 
those whom our Lord summoned to follow him. After 
the ascension, he travelled into Scythia, and remained 
there preaching the Gospel for twenty years ; he then 
preached at Hieropolis in Phrygia, where he found the 
people addicted to the worship of a monstrous serpent 
or dragon, or of the god Mars under that form. Tak- 
ing compassion on their blindness, the apostle com- 
manded the serpent, in the name of the cross he held 
in his hand, to disappear, and immediately the reptile 
glided out from beneath the altar, at the same time 
emitting such a hideous stench that many people died, 
and among them the king's son fell dead in the arms 
of his attendants : but the apostle, by Divine power, 
restored him to life. Then the priests of the dragon 
were incensed against him, and they took him, and 
crucified him, and being bound on the cross they 
stoned him ; thus he yielded up his spirit to God, 
]iraying, like his Divine blaster, for his enemies and 

According to the Scripture, St. Philip had four 
daughters, who were prophetesses, and made many 
converts to the faith of Christ. (Acts xxi. 9.) In 
the Greek calendar, St. Mariamne, his sister, and 


St. Hermione, his daughter, are commemorated as 

When St. Philip is represented alone, or as one of 
the series of apostles, he is generally a man in the 
prime of life, with little beard, and with a benign 
countenance, being described as of a remarkably cheer- 
ful and affectionate nature. He bears, as his attribute, 
a cross, which varies in form ; sometimes it is a small 
cross, which he carries in his hand ; sometimes a high 
cross in the form of a T, or a tall staff' with a small 
Latin cross at the top of it. The cross of St. Philip 
may have a treble signification : it may allude to his 
martyrdom ; or to his conquest over the idols through 
the power of the cross ; or, when placed on the top of 
the pilgrim's staff", it may allude to his mission among 
the barbarians as preacher of the cross of salvation. 
Single figures of St. Philip as patron are not common : 
there is a fine statue of him on the fe^ade of San Mi- 
chele at Florence ; and a noble figure by Beccafnmi, 
reading ; * another, seated aud reading, by Ulrich 

Subjects from the life of St. Philip, whether as single 
pictures or in a series, are also rarely met with. As 
he was the first called by our Saviour to leave all and 
follow him, and his vocation therefore a festival in the 
Church, it must, I think, have been treated apart ; but 
I have not met with it. I know but of three historical 
subjects taken from his life : — 

1. Bonifazio. St. Philip stands before the Saviour: 
the attitude of the latter is extremely dignified, that 
of Philip supplicatory ; the other apostles are seen in 
the background : the coloring and expression of the 
whole like Titian. The subject of this splendid pic- 
ture is expressed by the inscription underneath (John 
xiv. 14) : " Domine, ostende nobis Patrem, et sufficit 
nobis." " Philippe, qui videt me, videt et Patrem 
meum : ego et Pater unum sumus." J 

* Duomo, Siena. t Belvedere, Vienna. 

X Venice Acad. 


ST. PHILIP. 251 

2. St. Philip exorcises the serpent. The scene is 
the interior of a temple, an altar with the statue of the 
god !Mars : a serpent, creeping from beneath the altar, 
slays the attendants with his poisonous and fiery breath. 
The ancient fresco in his chapel at Padua, described by 
Lord Lindsay, is extremely animated, but far inferior 
to the same subject in the Santa Croce at Florence by 
Fra Filippo Lippi, wiiere the dignified attitude of the 
apostle, and the group of the king's son dying in the 
arms of the attendants, are admirably effective and 
dramatic. St. Piiilip, it must be observed, was the 
patron saint of the painter. 

3. The Crucifixion of St. Philip. According to the 
old Greek traditions, he was crucified with his head 
downwards, and he is so represented on the gates of 
San Paolo ; also in an old picture over the tomb of 
Cardinal Philippe d'Alenyon, where his patron, St. 
Philip, is attached to the cross with cords, and head 
downwards, like St. Peter ; * but in the old fresco by 
Giusto da Padova, in the Capella di San Filippo, he is 
crucified in the usual manner, arrayed in a long red 
garment which descends to his feet. 

It is necessary to avoid confounding St. Philip the 
apostle with St. Philip the deacon. It was Philip the 
deacon who baptized the chamberlain of Queen Can- 
dace, though the action has sometimes been attributed 
to Philip the apostle. The incident of the baptism of 
the Ethiopian, taking place in the road, by running 
water, " on the way that goeth down from Jerusalem 
to Gaza," has been introduced into several beautiful 
landscapes with much picturesque effect. Claude has 
thus treated it ; Salvator Rosa ; Jan Both, in a most 
beautiful picture in the Queen's Gallery ; Rembrandt, 
Cuyp, and others. 

* Rome, S. Maria-in-Trastevere. a. d. 1397. 

St. Bartholomew. 

Z!/ai. S. Bartholomeus. /ia/. San Bartolomeo. Fr. 5t. Barthelemi. 
Aug. 24. 

As St. Bartholomew is nowhere mentioned in the 
canonical books, except by name in enumerating the 
apostles, there lias been large scope for legendary story, 
but in works of art he is not a popular saint. Accord- 
ing to one tradition, he was the son of a husbandman ; 
according to another, he was the son of a prince Ptolo- 
raeus. After the ascension of Christ he travelled into 
India, even to the confines of the habitable world, car- 
rying with him the Gospel of St. Matthew ; returning 
thence, he preached in Armenia and Cilicia; and com- 
ing to the city of Albanopolis, he was condemned to 
death as a Christian : he was first flayed and then cru- 

In single figures and devotional ]iictures, St. Bar- 
tholomew sometimes carries in one hand a book, the 
Gospel of St. Matthew ; but his peculiar attribute is a 
large knife, the instrument of his martyrdom. The 
legends describe him as having a quantity of strong 
black hair and a busliy grizzled beard ; and this por- 
trait being followed very literally by the old German 
and Flemish painters, gives him, Avith his lai-ge knife, 
the look of a butcher. In the Italian pictures, though 
of a milder and more dignified appearance, he has fre- 
quently black hair ; and sometimes dark and resolute 
features ; yet the same legend describes him as of a 
cheerful countenance, Avearing a purple robe and at- 
tended by angels. Sometimes St. Bartholomew has 
his own skin hanging over his arm, as among the 
saints in Michael Angelo's Last Judgment, where he 
is holding forth his skin in one hand, and grasping his 
knife in the other : and in the statue by Marco Agrati 
in the Milan Cathedral, famous for its anatomical pre- 
cision and its boastful inscription, Non me Praxiteles 
sed Marcus pinxit Ayratis. I found in the church of 

ST. THOMAS. 253 

Notre Dame at Paris a picture of St. Bartholomevr 
healing the Princess of Armenia. With this exception, 
I know not any historical subject where this apostle is 
the principal figure, except his revolting and cruel 
martyrdom. In the early Greek representation on the 
gates of San Paolo, he is affixed to a cross, or rather 
to a post, with a small transverse bar at top, to which 
his hands are fastened above his head ; an executioner, 
with a knife in his hand, stoops at liis feet. This is 
very different from the representations in the modern 
schools. The best, that is to say, the least disgusting, 
representation I have met with, is a small picture by 
Agostino Caracci, in the Sutherland Gallery, which 
once belonged to King Charles I. : it is easy to see 
that the painter had the antique Marsyas in his mind. 
That dark, ferocious spirit, Ribera, found in it a theme 
congenial with his own temperament ; * he has not 
only painted it several times with a horrible truth and 
power, but etched it elaborately with his own hand : a 
small picture, copied from the etching, is at Hampton 

St. Thomas. 

Ital. San Tomaso. Sp. San Tomc^. Deo. 21. Patron Saint of 
Portugal and Parma. 

St. Thomas, called Dklymus (the twin), takes, as 
apostle, the seventh place. He was a Galilean and a 
fisherman, and we find him distinguished among the 
apostles on two occasions recorded in the Gospel. 
When Jesus was going up to Bethany, being then iu 
danger from the Jews, Thomas said, " Let us also go, 
that we may die with him." (John xi. 16, xx. 25.) 
After the resurrection, he showed himself unwilling to 
believe in the reappearance of the crucified Saviour 
without ocular demonstration • this incident is styled 
the Incredulity of Thomas. From these two incidents 

* Stirling's " Artists of Spain," ii. p. 753. 



we may form some idea of his character : courageous 
and affectionate, but not inclined to take things for 
granted ; or, as a French writer expresses it, " brusque 
et resolu, mais d'un esprit exigeant." After the ascen- 
sion, St. Thomas travelled into the East, preaching tlie 
Gospel in far distant countries towards the rising sun. 
It is a tradition received in the Church, that he pene- 
trated as far as India ; that there meeting with the 
three Wise Men of the East, he baptized them ; that 
there he founded a church in India, and suffered mar- 
tyrdom there. It is related, that the Portuguese found 
at Meliapore an ancient inscription, purporting that 
St. Thomas had been pierced with a lance at the foot 
of a cross which he had erected in that city, and that 
in 1523 his body was found there and transported to 

In Correggio's fresco of St. Thomas as protector of 
Parma he is surrounded by angels bearing exotic fruits, 
as expressing his ministry in India. 

There are a number of extravagant and poetical le- 
gends relating to St. Thomas. I shall here limit my- 
self to those which were adopted in ecclesiastical deco- 
ration, and treated by the artists of the middle ages. 

When St. Thomas figures as apostle, alone or with 
others, in all the devotional representations which are 
not prior to the thirteenth century, he carries as his at- 
tribute the builder's rule. 

Now, as he was a fisherman, and neither a carpenter 
nor a mason, the origin of this attribute must be sought 
in one of the most popular legends of wliich he is the 
f"^ " When St. Thomas was at Cesarea, our Lord ap- 
peared to him and said, ' The king of the Indies, Gon- 
doforus, hath sent his provost A banes to seek for 
workmen well versed in the science of architecture, 
who shall build for him a palace tiner than that of the 
Emperor of Rome. Behold, now, I will send thee to 
him.' And Thomas went, and Gondoforus command- 
ed him to build for him a magnificent palace, and gave 



him much gold and silver for the purpose. The king 
went into a distant *countr)-, and was absent for two 
years ; and St. Thomas meanwhile, instead of building 
a palace, distributed all the treasures intrusted to him 
among the poor and sick ; and when the king returned, 
he was full of wrath, and he commanded that St. 
Thomas should he seized and cast into prison, and he 
meditated for him a horrible death. Meantime the 
brother of the king died ; and the king resolved to erect 
for him a most magnificent tomb ; but the dead man, 
after that he had been dead four days, suddenly arose and 
sat upright, and said to the king, ' The man whom thou 
wouldst torture is a servant of God : behold I have 
been in Paradise, and the angels showed to me a won- 
drous palace of gold and silver and precious stones ' ; and 
they said, ' This is the palace that Thomas the archi- 
tect hath built for thy brother King Gondoforus.' And 
when the king heard these words, he ran to the prison, 
and delivered the apostle; and Thomas said to liim, 
' Knowest tliou not that those who would possess 
heavenly things, have little care for the things of this 
earth ? There are in heaven j-icli palaces without num- 
ber, which were prepared from the beginning of the 
world for those who purchase the possession through 
faith and charity. Tiiy riches, king,- may prepare 
the way for tliee to such a palace,- but they cannot fol- 
low thee thither.'"* 

Tlie builder's rule in the hand of St. Thomas charac- 
terizes him as the spiritual architect of King Gondofo- 
rus, and for the same reason lie has been chosen among 
the saints as patron of architects and builders. 

There is in this legend or allegory, fanciful as it is, an 
obvious beauty and significance, which I need not point 
out. It appears to me to be one of those many legend? 
which originally were not assumed to be facts, hut were 
related as parables, religious fictions invented for the 
instruction of the people, like our Saviour's stories of 
the " Good Samaritan," the " Prodigal Son," &c., and 

* Legenda Aurea 


were rendered more striking and impressive by the in- 
troduction of a celebrated and exacted personage — our 
Saviour, the Virgin, or one of the apostles — as hero 
of the tale. This beautiful legend of St. Thomas and 
King Gondoforus is painted on one of the windows of 
the Cathedral at Bourges, — an appropriate offering 
from the company of builders in that ancient city. It 
is also the subject of one of the finest of the ancient 
French mysteries, which was acted with great applause 
at Paris in the fourteenth century. 

But, in the historical subjects from the hfe of St. 
Thomas, the first place must be given to the one Scrip- 
tural incident in which he figures as a principal person. 
" The Incredulity of St. Thomas " occurs in all the 
early series of the life of Christ, as one of the events 
of his mission, and one of the proofs of his resurrec- 
tion. On the ancient gates of San Paolo it is treated 
with great simplicity as a sacred mystery, St. Thomas 
being the principal personage in the action, as the one 
whose conviction was to bring conviction to the uni- 
verse. Christ stands on a pedestal surmoimtcd by a 
cross ; the apostles are ranged on each side, and St. 
Thomas, approaching, stretches forth his hand. The 
incident, as a separate subject, is of frequent occurrence 
in the later schools of Italy, and in the Flemish schools. 
The general treatment, when given in this dramatic 
style, admits of two variations : either St. Thomas is 
placing his hand, with an expression of doubt and fear, 
on tlie wounds of the Saviour ; or, his doubts being 
removed, he is gazing upwards in adoration and won- 
der. Of the first, one of the finest examples is a well- 
known picture by Rubens,* one of his most beautiful 
works and extraordinary for the truth of the expression 
in the countenance of the apostle, whose hand is on the 
side of Christ ; St. John and St. Peter are behind. 
In Vandyck's picture at Petersburg, St. Thomas stoops 
to examine the Saviour's hand. In a design ascribed 
to Raphael, we have the second version : the look of 

* Gallery of Antwerp. 



astonished conviction in St. Thomas.* Niccolo Pous- 
sin has painted it finely, introducing twelve fisures.t 
Guercino's picture is celebrated, but he has committed 
the fault of repi-esenting the two principal figures both 
in profile. J 

The legendary subject styled "La Madonna della 
Cintola" belongs pi'operly to the legends of the Virgin, 
but as St. Thomas is always a principal personage I 
shall mention it here. The legend relates that when 
the Madonna ascended into heaven, in the sight of the 
apostles, Thomas was absent ; but after three days he 
returned, and, doubling the truth of her glorious trans- 
lation, he desired that her tomb should be opened; 
which was done, and lo ! it was found empty. Then 
the Virgin, taking pity on his weakness and want of 
faith, threw down to him her girdle, that this tangible 
proof remaining in his hands might i-emove all doubts 
forever from his mind : hence in many pictures of the 
Assumption and Coronation of the Virgin, St. Thomas 
is seen below holding the sacred gii-dle in his hand. 
For instance, in Raphael's beautiful " Coronation " in 
the Vatican ; and in Correggio's " Assumption " at 
Parma, where St. Thomas holds the girdle, and an- 
other apostle kisses it. 

The belief that the girdle is preserved in the Cathe- 
dral at Pistoia has rendered this legend a popular sub- 
ject with the Florentine painters ; and we find it treated, 
not merely as an incident in the scene of the Assump- 
tion, but in a manner purely mystic and devotional. 
Thus, in a charming bas-relief by Luca della Robbia,§ 
the Virgin, surrounded by a choir of angels, presents 
her girdle to the apostle. In a beautiful picture by 
Granacci,|| the Virgin is seated in the clouds ; beneath 
is her empty sepulchre • on one side kneels St. Thomas, 
who receives with reverence the sacred girdle ; on the 

* Passavant'3 Rafael, ii. 116. 

t Eng. by Audran. J Gal. Vatican. 

§ Fl. Acad. II Fl. Gal 



other kneels the Archangel Michael. In simplicity of 
arrangement, beauty of expression, and tender har- 
mony of color, this picture has seldom been exceeded. 
Granacci has again treated this subject, and St. Thomas 
receives the girdle in the presence of St. John the Bap- 
tist, St. James Major, St. Laurence, and St. Bartholo- 
mew.* We have the same subject by Paolino da 
Pistoia; by Sogliani ; and by Mainardi, a large and 
very fine fresco in the church of Santa Croce at Flor- 

A poetical and truly mystical version of this subject 
is that wherein the Infant Saviour, seated or standing 
on his mother's knee, looses her girdle and presents it 
to St. Thomas. Of this I have seen several examples ; 
one in the Duomo at Viterbo.t 

In the Martyrdom of St. Thomas, several idolaters 
pierce him through with lances and javelins. It was 
so represented on the doors of San Paolo, witli four 
figures only. Rubens, in his large picture, has followed 
the legend very exactly ; St. Thomas embraces the 
cross, at the foot of which he is about to fall, transfixed 
by spears. A large picture in the gallery of Count 
Harrach at Vienna, called there the Martyrdom of St. 
Jude, I believe to represent the Martyrdom of St. 
Thomas. Two of the idolatrous priests pierce him 
with lances. Albert Diirer, in his beautiful print 
of St. Thomas, represents hira holding the lance, the 
instrument of his martyrdom : but this is very un- 

The eighth in the order of the Apostles is the 
Evangelist St. Matthew, of whom I have spoken 
at length. 

* Florence, Casa Ruccellai. 

t The romantic Legend of ihn sacratissima cintola, "the most 
sacred girdle of the Virgin," is given at length in the " Legends 
of the Madonna." 


St. James Minor. 

Lea. S. Jacobus Prater Domini. Gr. Adelphotheos. Ital. San 
Jacopo or Giacomo Minore. Fr. S. Jacques Mineur. May 1. 

The ninth is St. James Minor, or the Less, called 
also the Just : he was a near relative of Christ, beinj^ 
the son of Mary, the wife of Cleophas, who was the sis- 
ter of the Viririn Mary ; hence he is styled " the Lord's 
brother." Nothing particular is related of him till after 
the ascension. He is regarded as first Christian bishop 
of Jerusalem, and venerated for his self-denial, his piety, 
his wisdom, and his charity. These characteristics are 
conspicuous in the beautiful Epistle which bears his 
name. Having excited, by the fervor of his teaching, 
the fury of the Scribes and Pharisees, and particularly 
the enmity of the high-priest Ananus, they flung him 
down from a terrace or parapet of the Temple, and one 
of the infuriated populace below beat out his brains 
with a fuller's club. 

In single figures and devotional pictures, St. James 
is generally leaning on this club, the instrument of his 
martyrdom. According to an early tradition, he so 
nearly resembled our Lord in person, in features, and 
deportment, that it was difficult to distinguish them. 
"The Holy Virgin herself," says the legend, "had she 
been capable of error, might have mistaken one for the 
other " : and this exact resemblance rendered necessary 
the kiss of the traitor Judas, in order to point out his 
victim to the soldiers. 

This characteristic resemblance is attended to in the 
earliest and best representations of St. James, and by 
this he may usually be distinguished when he does not 
bear his club, which is often a thick stick or staff. 
With the exception of those Scripture scenes in which 
the apostles are present, I have met with few pictures 
in which St. James Minor is introduced : he does not 
appear to have been popular as a patron saint. The 


event of his martyrdom occurs very seldom, and is very 
literally rendered : the scene is a court of the Temple, 
with terraces and balconies ; he is fallinc:, or has fallen, 
to the ground, and one of the crowd lifts up the club 
to smite him. 

Ignorant artists have in some instances confounded 
St. James Major and St. James Minor. The Capella 
dei Belludi at Padua, already mentioned, dedicated to 
St. Philip and St. James, contains a series of frescos 
from the life of St. James Minor, in which are some 
of the miraculous incidents attributed in the Legends 
Aurea to St. James Major. 

1. Tiie Council of the Apostles held at Jerusalem, 
in which St. James was nominated chief or bishop of 
the infant church. 2. Our Saviour after his resurrec- 
tion appears to St. James, who had vowed not to eat 
till he should see Christ.* 3. St. James thrown down 
from the pulpit in the court of the Temple. 4. He is 
slain by the fuller. 5. A certain merchant is stript of 
all his goods by a tyrant, and cast into prison. He 
implores the protection of St. James, who, leading him 
to the summit of the tower, commands the tower to 
bow itself to the ground, and the merchant steps from 
it and escapes ; or, according to the version followed in 
the fresco, the apostle lifts the tower on one side from 
its foundation, and the prisoner escapes from under it, 
like a mouse out of a trap. 6. A poor pilgrim, having 
neither money nor food, fell asleep by the wayside, 
and, on waking, found that St. James had placed be- 
side him a loaf of bread, wliich miraculously supplied 
his wants to the end of his journey. These two last 
stories are told also of St. James of Galicia, but I have 
never met with any pictures of his life in wliich they 
are included. Here they undoubtedly refer to St. 
James Minor, the chapel being consecrated to his honor. 

* " Very soon after the Lord was risen, he went to James, and 
showed himself to him. For James had solemnly sworn that he 
would eat no bread from the time that he had drank the cup of the 
Lord till he should see him risen from among them that sleep 

S T. SIM OX ZEL TL'S. — ST. J UDE. 261 

St. Simon Zelotes (or the Zealot). St. Jcdb 
(Thaddeus, or Lebbehs). 

Xtal. San Simone ; San Taddeo. Fr. S. Simon le Zele. S. Thad- 
dee. Ger. Judas Thaddajus. Oct. 28. 

The uncertainty, contradiction, and confusion which 
I find in all the ecclesiastical biographies relative to 
these apostles, make it impossible to give any clear 
account of them ; and as subjects of art they are so 
unimportant, and so uninteresting, that it is the less 
necessary. According to one tradition, they were the 
same mentioned by Matthew as our Lord's brethren or 
kinsmen. But, according to another tradition, they 
were not the same, but two brothers who were among 
the shepherds to whom the angel and the heavenly host 
revealed the birth of the Saviour. Those painters who 
followed the first tradition represent Simon and Jude as 
young, or at least in the prime of life. Those who 
adopt the second represent them as very old, taking it 
for granted that at the birth of Christ they must have 
been full-grown men; and this, I think, is the legend 
usually followed. It seems, however, generally agreed, 
that they preached the Gospel together in Syria and 
Mesopotamia, and together suffered martyrdom in Per- 
sia : in what manner they suffered is unknown ; but it 
is supposed that St. Simon was sawn asunder, and St. 
Thaddeus killed with a halberd. 

In a series of apostles, St. Simon bears the saw, and 
St. Thaddeus a halberd. In Greek art, Jude and Thad- 
deus are two different persons. Jude is represented 
young, Thaddeus old. St. Simon in extreme old age, 
with a bald head, and long white beard. In the Greek 

'Bring,' saith the Lord, 'a table and bread.' He took bread, and 
blessed and brake it, and then gave it to James the Just, and said 
to him, ' My brother, eat thy bread ; for the Son of man is risen 
from among them that sleep.' " — St. Jerome, as quoted in Lard 
ner, Lives of the Apostles, chap. 16. 


representation of his martyrdom, he is afBxed to a cross 
exactly like that of our Saviour, so that, but for the 
superscription O CIMi2N, he might be mistaken for 
Christ. I do not know of any separate picture of these 

There is, however, one manner of treating them, 
with reference to their supposed relationship to our 
Saviour, which is peculiarly beautiful. Assuming that 
the three last-named apostles, James, the son of j\Iary 
Cleophas ; Simon and Jude ; Joseph or Joses the Just, 
also named by Matthew among the brethren of Christ ; 
together with James and John, the sons of Mary Sa- 
lome, — were all nearly related to the Saviour ; it was 
surely a charming idea to group as children around him 
in his infancy those who Avere afterwards called to he 
the chosen ministers of his Word. Christianity, wjiich 
has glorified womanhood and childhood, never suggest- 
ed to the Christian artist a more beautiful subject, nor 
one which it would be more easy, by an unworthy or 
too picturesque treatment, to render merely pretty and 
commonplace. This version, however, of the Saa-a 
Famiglia is rarely met with. There is an example in 
the Louvre, signed " Laurentius " (Lorenzo di Pavia, 
A. D. 1513), which is remarkable as a religious repre- 
sentation ; but the most lieautiful instance of this treat- 
ment is a chef-d'amvre of Perugino, in the Muse'e at 
Marseilles. In the centre is the Virgin, seated on a 
throne ; she holds the Infant Christ in her arms. Be- 
hind her is St. Anna, her two hands resting affection- 
ately on the shoulders of the Virgin. In front, at the 
foot of the throne, are two lovely children, undraped, 
with glories round their heads, on which are inscribed 
their names, Simon and Thaddeus. To the right is 
Mary Salome, a beautiful young woman, holding a 
child in her arms, — St. John, afterwards the Evangelist. 
Near her is Joachim, the father of the Virgin. At his 
feet another child, James Major. To the left of the 
Virgin, Mary the wife of Cleophas, standing, holds by 
the hand James Minor: behind her, Joseph, the hus- 


band of the Virgin, and at his feet another child, Joseph 
(or Joses) Justus. I have also seen this subject in illu- 
minated MSS., and, however treated, it is surely veiy 
poetical and suggestive.* 

St. Matthias. 
Ital. San Mattia. Fr. St. Mathias. Feb. 24. 

St. Matthias, who was chosen by lot to fill the 
place of the traitor Judas, is the last of the apostles. 
(Acts i.) He preached the Gospel in Judsea, and suf- 
fered martyrdom at the hands of the Jews, either by 
the lance or by the axe. In the Italian series of the 
apostles, he bears as his attribute the lance ; in the Ger- 
man sets, more commonly the axe.t The ceremony 
of choosing St. Matthias by lot, is the subject of a 
mediocre picture by Boschi. St. Denis says that the 
apostles were directed in their choice by a beam of 
divine splendor, for it were impious to suppose that 
such an election was made l>y chance. In this picture 
of Boschi, a ray of light falls from heaven on the head 
of St. Matthias. 

There is a figure of this apostle by Cosimo Roselli, 
holding a sword hy the point: what might be the inten- 
tion of that capricious painter it is now impossible to 
guess. X Separate pictures of St. Matthias are very 
rare, and he is seldom included in sets of the apostles. 

Judas Iscariot. 

Ital. Giuda Scariota. Ft. Judas Iscariotte. 

The verj- name of Judas Iscariot has become a by- 
word ; his person and character an eternal type of 
impiety, treachery, and ingratitude. We shudder at 

* Matt. xiii. 55 ; Mark xv. 40. \ Fl. Gal. 

I Fl. Acad. 


the associations called up by his memory ; his crime, 
without a name, so distances all possible human turpi- 
tude, that he cannot even be held forth as a terror to 
evil doers ; we set him aside as one cut off; we never 
think of him but in reference to the sole and unequalled 
crime recorded of him. Not so our ancestors ; one 
should have lived in the middle a<!es to conceive the 
profound, the ever-present horror with which Judas Is- 
cariot was then regarded. The Devil himself did not 
inspire the same passionate hatred and indignation. 
Being the Devil, what could he be but devilish ? His 
wickedness was according to his infernal nature : but 
the crime of Judas remains the perpetual shame and 
reproach of our humanity. The Devil betrayed man- 
kind, but Judas betrayed his God. 

The Gospels are silent as to the life of Judas before 
he became an apostle, but our progenitors of the mid- 
dle ages, who could not conceive it possible that any 
being, however perverse, would rush at once into such 
an abyss of guilt, have filled up the omissions of Scrip- 
ture after their own fancy. They picture Judas as a 
Avretcli foredoomed from the beginning of the world, 
and prepared by a long course of vice and crime for 
that crowning guilt which filled the measure full. Ac- 
cording to this legend, he was of the tribe of Ecuben. 
Before his mother brought him forth, she dreamed that 
the son who lay in her womb would be accursed, that 
he would murder his father, commit incest with his 
mother, and sell his God. Terrified at lier dream, she 
took counsel with her husband, and they agreed to 
avert the threatened calamity by exposing the child. 
As in the story of CEdipus, from which, indeed, this 
strange wild legend seems partly borrowed, the means 
taken to avert the threatened curse caused its fulfilment. 
Judas, at his birth, is enclosed in a chest, and flung 
into the sea; the sea casts him up, and, being found on 
the shoi'e, he is fostered by a certain king and queen as 
their own son ; they have, however, another son, whom 


Judas, malignant from his birth, beats and oppresses, 
and at length kills in a quarrel over a game at chess. 
He then flies to Judrea, where he enters the service of 
Pontius Pilate as page. In due time he commits the 
other monstrous crimes to which he was predestined ; 
and when he learns from his mother the secret of his 
birth, he is tilled with a sudden contrition and terror; 
he hears of the prophet wiio has power on earth to for- 
give sins ; and seeking out Christ, throws himself at his 
feet. Our Saviour, not deceived, but seeing in liim the 
destined betrayer, and that all things may be accom- 
plished, accepts him as his apostle : he becomes the 
seneschal or stewai'd of Christ, bears the purse, and 
provides for the common wants. In this position, 
avarice, the only vice to which he was not yet addicted, 
takes possession of his soul, and makes the corruption 
complete. Through avarice, he grudges every penny 
given to the poor, and when !Mary ^lagdalene anoints 
the feet of our Lord he is full of wrath at what he con- 
siders the waste of the precious perfume. " Why was 
not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and 
given to the poor "? This he said, not that he cared for 
the.jioor, but because he was a thief" Through ava- 
rice, he yields to the bribe offered by the Jews. Then 
follow the scenes of the betrayal of Christ and the 
late repentance and terrible suicide of the traitor, as re- 
corded in Scrijjture. But in the old Mystery of the 
•' Passion of Christ," the repentance and fate of Judas 
are very dramatically worked out, and with all possible 
circumstances of horror. When lie beholds the mild 
Saviour before the judgment-seat of Herod, he repents: 
Remorse, who figures as a real personage, seizes on the 
fated wretch, and torments him till in his agony he in- 
vokes Despair. Despair appears, almost in the guise 
of the " accursed wiglit " in Spenser, and, witli like 
arguments, urges liiiu to make away with his life ; — 

" And brings unto him swords, rope, poison, fire. 
And all that mi^chi him to perdition draw, 
And bids him choose what death he would desire." 


Or in the more homely language of the old French 
mystery, — 

" II faut que tu passes le pas ! 
Voici dagues et coutelas, 
Forcettes, poinQous, allumettes, — 
Avises, choisis les plus belles, 
Et celles de meilleure forge, 
Pour te couper a coup la gorge ; 
Ou si tu aimes mieux te pendre, 
Voici lacs et cordes i vendre." 

The offer here of the bodkins and the allumettes re- 
minds us of the speech of Falconbridge : — 

" If thou wouldet drown thyself. 
Put but a little water iu a spoon, 
And it shall be as all the ocean. 
Enough to stifle such a villain up." 

Judas chooses the rope, and hangs himself forth- 
with ; " and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the 
midst, and all his bowels gushed out " : wliich account 
is explained by an early tradition, that being found and 
cut down, his body was thrown over the parapet of the 
Temple into the ravine below, and, in the fall, was 
riven and dashed to pieces. 

There required but one more touch of horror to 
complete the picture ; and this is furnished by a sonnet 
of Giani, which I remember to have read in my youth. 
When Judas falls from the fatal tree, his evil genius 
seizes the broken rope, and drags him down to the 
seething abyss below : at his approach, hell sends fortli 
a shout of rejoicing ; Lucifer smooths his brow, corru- 
gated with fire and pain, and rises from his burning 
throne to welcome a greater sinner than himself: 

" Poi fra le braccia incateno quel tristo. 
E coUa bocca sfavillante e nera 
Gli rese il bacio ch' avea dato a Christo ! " 

The retribution imaged in the last two lines borders, 
I am afraid, on a concetto ; but it makes one shiver, 


Separate representations of the figure or o' the life 
of Judas Iscariot are not, of coui'se, to be looked for; 
they would have been regarded as profane- as omi- 
nous, — worse than the evil-c\-e. In those Scripture 
scenes in wiiich he tiiids a place, it was the aim of the 
early artists to give him a countenance as hateful, as 
expressive of treachery, meanness, malignity, as their 
skill could compass, — the Italians having depended 
more on expression, the German and Spanish painters 
on form. We have a conviction, that if tiie man liad 
really worn such a look, such features, he would have 
been cast out from the company of the apostles ; the 
legend already referred to says expressly that Judas 
was of a comely appeai-ance, and was recommended to 
the service of Pontius Pilate by his beauty of person : 
but the painters, speaking to the people in the language 
of form, were right to admit of no equivocation. The 
same feeling which induced them to concentrate on the 
image of the Demon all they could conceive of hideous 
and repulsive, made them picture the exterior of Judas 
as deformed and hateful as the soul within ; and, by an 
exaggeration of the Jewish cast of features combined 
with red hair and beard, they flattered themselves that 
they had attained the desired object. But as if this 
were not enough, the ancient painters, particularly in 
the old illuminations, and in Byzantine Art, represent 
Judas as directly and literally possessed by the Devil : 
sometimes it is a little black demon seated on his shoul- 
der, and whispering in his ear ; sometimes entering his 
mouth : thus, in their simplicity, rendering the words 
of the Gospel, " Then entered Satan into Judas." 

The color proper to the dress of Judas is a dirty, 
dingy yellow ; and in Spain this color is so intimately 
associated with the image of the arch-traitor, as to bo 
held in universal dislike : both in Spain and in Italy, 
malefactors and galley-slaves are clothed in yellow.* 
At Venice the Jews were obliged to wear yellow hats. 

' See Ford's Handbook of Spain ; also Goethe's " Theory of 
Colors,'' translated by Sir C. Eastlake. " When a yellow color is 


In some of the Scriptural scenes in which Judas is 
mentioned or supposed to be pi-esent, it is worth while 
to remark whether the painter lias passed him over as 
spoiling the harmony of the sacred composition by his 
intrusive ugliness and wickedness, or has rendered him 
conspicuous by a distinct and characteristic treatment. 
In a picture by Niccolb Frumenti * of the Magdalene 
at the feet of our Saviour, Judas stands in the fore- 
ground, looking on with a most diabolical expression 
of grudging malice mingled with scorn ; he seems to 
grind his teeth as he says, " To what purpose is this 
waste ? " In Perugino's beautiful picture of the wash- 
ing the feet of the disciples,! Judas is at once distin- 
guished, looking askance, with a wicked sneer on his 
face, which is not otherwise ugly. Li Raphael's com- 
position of the Magdalene anointing tlie feet of Christ, 
Judas leans across the table with an angry look of ex- 

Those subjects in which Judas Isoariot appears as a 
principal personage follow here. 

1 . Angelico da Fiesole.J He is bribed by the Jews. 
The high-priest pays into the hand u/ Judas the thirty 
pieces of silver. They are standing before a doorway 
on some steps ; Judas is .seen in profile, and has the 
nimbus as one of tiie apostles : three persons are behind, 
one of whom expresses disapprobation and anxiety. In 
this subject, and in others wherein Judas is introduced, 
Angelico has not given him ugly and deformed fea- 

communieated to dull and coarse surfaces, such as common cloth, 
felt, or the like, on which it does not appear with full energy, 
the disagreeable effect alluded to is apparent. By a slight ami 
scarcely perceptible change, the beautiful impression of fire and 
gold is transformed into one not undeserving the epithet foul, and 
the color of honor and joy reversed to that of ignominy and aver- 
sion. To this impression, the yellow hats of bankrupts, and the 
yellow circles on the mantles of Jews, may have owed their ori- 
gin." (p. 308.) 

* Fl. Gal. t Manfrini P., Venice. 

} Fl. Acad. 


tures ; but in the scowling eye and bent brow there is 
ft vicious expression. 

In Duocio's series of the " Passion of our Saviour," 
in the Duomo at Siena, he has, in tliis and in other 
scenes, represented Judas with regular and not ugly 
features ; but he has a villanous, and at the same time 
anxious, expression ; — he has a bad conscience. 

The scene between Judas and the high-priest is also 
given b_y Schalken as a candlelight effect, and in the 
genuine Dutch style. 

2. "Judas betrays his Master with a kiss." This 
subject will be noticed at large in the Life of Christ. 
The early Italians, in giving this scene with much dra- 
matic power, never foi'got the Scriptural dignity re- 
quired ; while the early Germans, in their endeavor to 
render Judas as odious in pln'siognomy as in heart, 
have in this, as in many other instances, rendered the 
awful and the pathetic merely grotesque. We must 
infer from Scripture, that Judas, with all his perversity, 
had a conscience ; he would not else have hanged him- 
self. In the physiognomy given to him by the old 
Germans, there is no trace of this ; he is an ugly, ma- 
lignant brute, and nothing more. 

3. Rembrandt. " Judas throws down the thirty 
pieces of silver in the Temple, and departs." * 

4. " The remorse of Judas." He is seated and in 
the act of putting the rope about his neck ; beside him 
is seen the purse, and the money scattered about the 
ground. The design is by Bloemart, and, from the 
Latin inscription underneath, appears to be intended 
as a warning to all unrighteous dealers. 

5. " Judas hanging on a tree " is sometimes intro- 
duced into the background, in ancient pictures of the 
Deposition and the Entombment : there is one in the 
Frankfort Museum. 

6. " Demons toss the soul of Judas from hand to 
hand in the manner of a ball": in an old French min- 

* In the gallery of Lord Charlemont, Dublin. 


lature.* This is sufficiently grotesque in representa- 
tion ; yet, in the idea, there is a restless, fjicldy horror 
which thrills us. At all events, it is better than placing 
Judas between the jaws of Satan with his legs in the 
air, as Dante has done, and as Orcagna in ids Dant- 
esque fresco has very literally rendered the description 
of the poet.t 

The Last Supper. 

Ital. II Cenacolo. La Cena. Fr. La Cfene. Ger. Das Abendmal 


I HAVE already mentioned the principal scenes in 
which the Twelve always appear together ; there is, 
however, one event belonging properly to the life of 
Christ, so important in itself, presenting tlie Apostles 
under an aspect so peculiar, and throwing so much in- 
terest around them collectively and individually, that I 
must bring it under notice here. 

Next to the Crucifixion, there is no subject taken 
from the history of our redemption so consecrated in 
Art as the Last Supper. The awful signification lent 
to it by Protestants as well as Catholics has given it a 
deep religious import, and caused its frequent represen- 

* MS., No. 7206, Bib. du Roi. 

t Florence, S. JIaria Novella. It is clear that the extravagant 
legends which refer to Judas Iscariot were the inventions of the 
middle ages, and are as little countenanced by the writings of the 
early Fathers as by the Gospels. Eusebius says, that "Christ 
gave like gifts to Judas with the other apostles ; that once our 
Saviour had good hopes of him on account of the power of the 
free will, for Judas was not of such a nature as rendered his saU 
vation impossible ; like the other apostles, he might have been 
;nstructed by the Son of God, and might have been a sincere and 
good disciple." Quoted in Lardner, vol. viii. p. 77. — The Ma- 
hometans believe that Christ did not die, that he ascended alive 
into heaven, and that Judas was crucified in his likeness. Curzon, 
p. 185. 


tation in churches.; it has been, more particularly, the 
appropriate decoration of the refectories of convents, 
hospitals, and other institutions having a sacred char- 
acter. In our Protestant churches, it is generally the 
subject of tlie altar-piece, where we have one. 

Besides being one of the most important and inter- 
esting, it is one of the most difficult among the sacred 
subjects treated in Art. While the fixed number of 
personages introduced, the divine and paramount dig- 
nity of One among them, the well-known character of 
all, have limited the invention of the artist, tliey have 
tasked to the utmost his power of expression. The 
occa&ion, that of a repast eaten by twelve persons, is, 
under its material aspect, so commonplace, and, taken 
in the spiritual sense, so awful, that to elevate himself 
to the height of his tlieme, wiiile keeping the ideal con- 
scientiously bounded within its frame of circumstance, 
demanded in the artist aspirations of the grandest order, 
tempered by the utmost sobriety of reflection ; and the 
deepest insight into the springs of character, combined 
with the most perfect knowledge of the indications of 
character as manifested through form. On the other 
hand, if it has been difficult to succeed, it has been 
equally difficult to fail signally and completely ; be- 
cause the spectator is not here, as in the crucifixion, in 
danger of being perpetually sliocked by the intrusion 
of anomalous incidents, and is always ready to supply 
the dignity and meaning of a scene so familiar in itself, 
out of his own mind and heart. It has followed, that 
mediocrity has been more prevalent and more endurable 
in this than in any otiier of the more serious sulijects 
of Art. But wliere excellence has been in some few 
instances attained, it has been attained in such a su- 
preme degree, that these examples have become a per- 
petual source of contemplation and of emulation, and 
rank among the most renowned productions of human 

But, befoi-e I come to consider these analytically, it 
is necessary to premise one or two observations, which 


will assist us to discrimination in ,the general treats 

Pictures and works of art, which represent the Last 
Supper of our Lord, admit of the same classitication 
which I have adliered to generally throughout this 
work. Those which represent it as a religious mystery 
must be considered as devotional; those which represent 
it merely as a scene in the passion of our Saviour are 
historical. In the first, we have the spiritual origin of 
the Eucharist ; in the second, the highly dramatic de- 
tection of Judas. It is evident that the predominating 
motif in each must be widely different. In paintings 
which arc intended for the altar, or for the chapels of 
the Holy Sacrament, we have the first, the mystical 
version ; — it is the distribution of the spiritual food. 
In the second form, as the Last Supper eaten by Christ 
with his disciples, as leading the mind to an humble 
and grateful sense of his sacrifice, as repressing all 
sinful indulgence in food, it has been the subject chosen 
to decorate the refectory or common diniug-room of 

It is curious that on the Christian sarcophagi the 
Last Supper does not occur. There is, in the Vatican, 
a rude painting taken from the catacombs representing 
twelve persons in a semicircle, with something like 
plates and dishes before them. I could not determine 
whether this was our Saviour and his apostles, or 
merely one of those feasts or sup])crs instituted by tlie 
early Christians called Agapce or love-feasts ; but I 
should think the latter. 

On the Dalmatica (deacon's robe) preserved in the 
sacristy of the Vatican, there is, if the date be exact 
(a. d. 795), the most ancient representation I have seen 
of the institution of the Sacrament. The embroidery, 
which is wonderfully beautiful, is a copy from Byzan- 
tine Art. On one side, our Saviour stands by a table 
or altar, and presents the cup to his apostles, one of 
whom approaches in a reverential attitude, and with 
his hands folded in his robe ; on the other side, Christ 



presents the wafer or host : so that we have the two 
separate moments in separate groups. 

There exists in the Duomo of Lodi the most ancient 
sculptural example of this subject I have met with ; it 
is a bas-relief of the twelfth century, dated 1163, and 
fixed in the wall to the left of the entrance. Christ 
and the apostles are in a straight row, all very much 
alike ; six of the apostles lay their hands on their 
breast, — "Lord, is it I?" and Christ presents the 
sop to Judas, who sits in front, and is as ugly as 

Although all the Byzantine pictures of the twelfth 
and thirteentli centuries which have come under my 
notice represent Christ breaking the bread or holding 
the cup, that is, tlie institution of the Sacrament, the 
Greek formula published by Didron distinguishes be- 
tween this scene, and that of the repast in which Judas 
is denounced as a traitor. The earliest representation 
to which I can refer in Western Art, as taking the his- 
torical form, is the Cenacolo of Giotto, the oldest and 
the most important that has been preserved to us ; it 
was painted by him in the refectory of the convent of 
Santa Croce at Florence. This refectory, when I vis- 
ited it in 1847, was a carpet manufactory, and it was 
difficult to get a good view of the fresco by reason of 
the intervention of the carpet-looms. It has been often 
restored, and is now in a bad state ; still, enough re- 
mains to understand the original intention of the artist, 
and that arrangement which has since been the ground- 
work of similar compositions. 

A long table extends across the picture from side to 
side : in the middle, and fronting the spectator, sits the 
Eedeemer ; to the right, St. John, his head reclining 
on the lap of Christ ; next to him, Peter ; after Peter, 
St. James Major ; thus placing together the three fa- 
vorite disciples. Next to St. James, St. Matthew, St. 
Bartholomew, and a young beardless apostle, probably 
St. Philip. 

On the left hand of our Saviour is St. Andrew ; and 


next to him, St. James Minor (the two St. Jameses 
bearing the traditional resemblance to Christ) ; then 
St. Simon and St. Judo ; and lastly, a young apostle, 
probably St. Thomas. (The reader will have the good- 
ness to recollect that I give this explanation of the 
names and position of the eleven apostles as my own, 
and with due deference to the opinion of those who on 
a further study of the fresco may differ from me.) Op- 
posite to the Saviour, and on the near side of the table, 
sits Judas, apart from the rest, and in the act of dip- 
ping his hand into the dish. It is evident that the 
moment chosen by the artist is, " He tliat dippeth with 
me in the dish, the same shall betray me." 

Although the excuse may be found in the literal 
adoptiqii of the words of the Gospel,* it appears to 
me a fault to make St. Joiin leaning, as one half asleep, 
on the lap of our Saviour, after such words have been 
uttered as must have roused, or at least ought to have 
roused, the young and beloved apostle from his supine 
attitude ; thei-etore, we may suppose that Christ is 
about to speak the words, but lias not yet spoken them. 
The position of Judas is caused by the necessity of 
placing him sufficiently near to Christ to dip his hand 
in the same dish ; while to have placed him on the 
same side of the table, so as to give him the prece- 
dence over the more favored disciples, would have 
appeared to the early artists nothing less than ]3rofane. 
Giotto has paid great attention to the heads, which are 
individually characterized, but there is little dramatic 
expression ; the attention is not yet directed to Judas, 
who is seen in profile, looking up, not ugly in feature, 
but with a mean, vicious countenance, and bent shoul- 

The arrangement of the table and figures, so pecu- 
liarly fitted for a refectory, has been generally adopted 
since the time of Giotto in pictures painted for this 

* The Greek expression, " leaning on his bosom, or on his lap," 
is not, I believe, to be talien literally, being used to signify an in- 
timate and affectionate intercourse. 



especial purpose. The subject is placed on the upper 
wall of the chamber ; the table extending from side to 
side : the tables of the monks are placed, as in the 
dining-rooms of our colleges, lengtliways ; thus all can 
behold the divine assembly, and Christ appears to pre- 
side over and sanctify the meal. 

In another Cenacolo by Giotto,* which forms one of 
the scenes in the history of Christ, he has given us a 
totally different version of the subject ; and, not being 
intended for a refectory, but as an action or event, it is 
more dramatic. It is evident tliat our Saviour has 
just uttered the words, " He that dippcth with me in 
the dish, the same shall betray me." Judas, who has 
mean, ugly, irregular features, looks up alarmed, and 
seems in the act of rising to escape. One apostle 
(PhiHp, I think) points at hira, and the attention of 
all is more or less directed to hira. This would be a 
fault if the subject were intended for a refectory, or to 
represent the celebration of tlie Eucharist. But here, 
where the subject is historical, it is a propriety. 

The composition of Duccio of Siena, in the Duomo 
at Siena, must have been nearly contemporary with, if it 
did not precede, those of Giotto (a. d. 1308) ; it is 
quite different, quite original in motif\. arrangement. 
Seven apostles sit on the same side with Christ, and 
five opposite to him, turning their backs on the spectator; 
the faces are seen in profile. Tiie attitude of St. John, 
leaning against our Saviour with downcast eyes, is 
much more graceful than in the composition of Giotto. 
St. Peter is on the right of Christ ; next to him St. 
James Minor : two young apostles sit at the extreme 
ends of the table, wliom I suppose to be St. Philip and 
St. Thomas : the other apostles I am unable to discrim- 
inate, with the exception of Judas, who, with regular 
features, has a characteristic scowl on his brow. Christ 
holds out a piece of bread in his hand .• two of the 
apostles likewise hold bread, and two others hold a cup ; 

* Florence Acad. 


the rest look attentive or pensive, but the general char- 
acter of tlie heads is deficient in elevation. The mo- 
ment chosen may be the distribution of the I:read and 
wine ; but to me, it rather expresses the commencement 
of the meal, and our Saviour's address : " With desire 
have I desired to eat this passover with you before I 
Butfer." (Luke xxii. 15.) The next compartment of 
the same series, which represents the apostles seated 
in a group before Christ, and listening with upturned 
faces and the most profound attention to his last words, 
has much more of character, solemnity, and beauty 
than the Last Sujjper. Judas is here omitted ; " for 
he, having received the sop, went immediately out." 

Angelico da Fiesole, in his life of Christ, has been 
careful to distinguish between the detection of Judas 
and the institution of tlie Eucharist.* He has given 
us both scenes. In the first compartment, John is lean- 
ing down with his face to the Saviour ; the back of his 
head only is seen, and he appears too unmindful of 
what is going forward. The otiier apostles are well 
discriminated, tlie usual type strictly followed in Peter, 
Andrew, James Major, and James Minor. To the right 
of Christ are Peter, Andrew, Bartholomew ; to the left, 
James Minor. Four turn their backs, and two young 
apostles stand on each side, — I presume Thomas and 
Philip ; they seem to be waiting on the rest : Judas 
dips his liand in the dish. I suppose the moment to be 
the same as in the composition of Duccio. 

But in the next compartment the viotif is different. 
All have risen from table ; it is uo longer a repast, it is 
a sacred mystery ; Christ is in the act of administering 
the bread to St. John; all kneel; and Judas is seen 
kneeling behind Christ, near an open door, and apart 
from the rest, as if he were watching for the opportun- 
ity to escape. To dispose of Judas in this holy cert>- 
mony is always a difficulty. To represent him as so- 

" In the series of compositions from the life of Christ, now in 
the Academy at Florence ; beautifully and faithfully engraved ii>y 
P, Nocchi- 


ceiving with the rest tlie sacred rite is an offence to the 
pious. The expression used by St. John (xii. .30), 
" After he had received the sop he went out," implies 
that Judas was not present at the Lord's Supper, which 
succeeded the celebration of the paschal supper. St. 
Luke and St. Mark, neither of whom were present, 
leave us to suppose that Judas partook with the other 
disciples of the mystic bread and wine ; yet we can 
hardly believe that, after having been pointed out as 
the betrayer, the conscience-stricken Judas should re- 
main to receive the Eucharist. Sometimes he is omit- 
ted altofiether ; sometimes he is stealing out at the 
door. In the composition of Luca Signorelli, which 
I saw at Cortona, all the twelve apostles are kneeling ; 
Christ is distrilniting the wafer ; and Judas, turning 
away with a malignant look, puts his wafer into his 
satchel. In the composition of Palmezzano, in the 
Duomo at Forli, our Saviour stands, holding a plate, 
and is in the act of presenting the wafer to Peter, who 
kneels : St. John stands by the side of Christ, holding 
the cup : Judas is in the background ; he kneels by the 
door, and seems to be watching for the opportunity to 
steal away. 

The fine composition, fine also in sentiment and 
character, of Ghirlandajo, was painted for the small re- 
fectory in the San Marco at Florence. The arrange- 
ment is ingenious : the table is of what we call the 
liorse-shoe form, which allows all the figures to face 
the spectator ; and at the same time takes up less room 
than where the table runs across the picture from side 
to side. Judas sits in front, alone ; Christ has just 
designated him. " He it is to whom I shall give the 
sop when I have dipped it." (John xiii. 26.) Judas 
holds the sop in his hand, with an alarmed conscious 
look. Behind sits an ill-omened cat, probably intended 
for the fiend. John, to the left of Christ, appears to 
have swooned away. The other apostles express, in 
various ways, amazement and horror. 

It has been a question among critics, whether the 


purse ought to be placed in the hand of Judas when 
present at the Last Supper, because it is usually under- 
stood as containing the thirty pieces of silver : but this 
is a mistake ; and it leads to the mistake of represent- 
ing him as hiding the purse, as if it contained the 
price of his treachery. Judas carries the purse openly, 
for he was the steward, or purse-bearer, of the party : 
" he had the bag, and bare what was put therein " 
(John xii. 6, xiii. 29) : and as the money-bag is also 
the attribute of St. Matthew the tax-gatherer, we must 
take care not to confound him with the traitor and thief 
This brings me to the consideration of the subject as 
treated by Albert Diirer. 

In the series of large woodcuts from the Passion of 
our Saviour (styled " La grande Passion "), the Cena- 
oolo is an event, and not a mystery. John, as a beau- 
tiful 3'outh, is leaning against our Saviour with down- 
cast ej'es ; he docs not look as if he had thrown him- 
self down half-asleep, but as if Christ had put his arm 
around him, and drawn and pressed him fondly towards 
him. On the right is Peter ; the other apostles are not 
easily discriminated, but they have all that sort of 
grandiose ugliness which is so full of character, and so 
particularly the characteristic of the artist : the apostle 
seated in front, in a cowering attitude, holding the purse, 
which he seems anxious to conceal, and looking up 
apprehensively, I suppose to be Judas. 

In tlie smaller set of woodcuts (" La petite Passion "), 
I believe the apostle with the purse in the foreground 
to be St. Matthew ; while the ugly, lank-haired person- 
age behind Christ, who looks as if about to steal away, 
is probably intended for Judas : one of the apostles has 
laid hold of liim, and seems to say, " Thou art the 
man ! " 

There is a third Cenacolo, by Albert Diirer, which 
plainly represents the Eucharist. The cup only is oa 
the table, and Judas is omitted. 

In a Cenacolo by another old German, Judas is in 
the act of receiving l^ie sop, which Christ is putting in- 


to his mouth ; and at the same time he is hiding the 
purse : — a mistake, as I liave already observed. 

These examples must suffice to give some idea of tlie 
manner in which this subject was generally treated hj 
the early German and Italian artists. But, whether 
presented before us as a dramatic scene expressing in- 
dividual character, or as an historical event memorable 
in the life of Christ, or as a religious rite of awful and 
mysterious import, — all the examples I have men- 
tioned are in some respects ' deficient. We have the 
feeling, that, whatever may be the merit in sentiment, 
in intention, in detail, what has been attempted has 
not been achieved. 

When Leonardo da Vinci, the greatest thinker as well 
as the greatest painter of his age, brought all the re- 
sources of his wonderful mind to bear on the subject, 
then sprang forth a creation so consummate, that since 
that time it has been at once the wonder and the de- 
sj)air of those who have followed in the same path. 
True, the work of his hand is perishing, — will soon 
have perished utterly. I remember well, standing be- 
fore this wreck of a glorious j)resence, so touched by its 
pale, shadowy, and yet divine siguiticance, and by its 
hopelessly impending ruin, that the tears sprang invol- 
untarily. Fortunately for us, multiplied copies have 
preserved at least the intention of the artist in his work. 
AVe can judge of what it has been, and take that for 
our text and for our theme. 

The purpose being the decoration of a refectory in a 
rich convent, the chamber lofty and spacious, Leonardo 
has adopted the usual  arrangement : the table runs 
across from side to side, filling up the whole extent of 
the wall, and the figures, being above the eye, and to 
be viewed from a distance, are colossal ; they would 
otherwise have appeared smaller than the real person- 
ages seated at the tables below. The moment selected 
is the utterance of the words, " Verily, verilv, I say 


nnto you, that one of you shall betray me " : or rathei 
the words have just been uttered, and the picture ex- 
presses their effect on the different auditors. It is of 
these auditors, his apostles, tliat I have to speak, and 
not of Christ himself; for the full consideration of the 
subject, as it regards Him, must be deferred ; the in- 
tellectual elevation, the fineness of nature, the benign 
God-lilve dignity, suffused with the profoundest sorrow, 
in this divine head, surpassed all I could have con- 
ceived as possible in Art ; and, faded as it is, the char- 
acter there, being stamped on it by the soul, not the 
hand, of the artist, will remain while a line or hue re- 
mains visible. It is a divine shadow, and, until it 
fades into nothing, and disapjjcars utterly, will have 
the lineaments of divinity. Next to Ciirist is St. 
John ; he has just been addressed by Peter, who 
beckons to him that he should ask " of whom the 
Lord spake " : — his disconsolate attitude, as he has 
raised himself to reply, and leans his clasped hands 
on the table, tlie almost feminine sweetness of liis 
countenance, express the character of this gentle and 
amiable apostle. Peter, leaning from behind, is all 
fire and energy ; Judas, who knows full well of whom 
the Saviour spake, starts back amazed, oversetting the 
salt ; his fingers clutch the bag, of which he has the 
charge, with that action which Dante describes as char- 
acteristic of the avaricious ; — 

"Qiiesli risurgeranuo dal sepolcro 
Col pugno chiuso." 

"These from the tomb with clenchM grasp shall rise." 

His face is seen in profile, and cast into sliadow ; 
without being vulgar, or even ugly, it is hateful. St. 
Andrew, with his long gray beard, lifts up his hands, 
expressing the wonder of a simple-hearted old man. 
St. James Minor, resemliling the Saviour in his mild 
features, and the form of his beard and hair, lays his 
hand on the shoulder of St. Peter, — the expression is, 
" Can it be possible 1 have we heard aright 1 " Bar" 



/holome-vv, at the extreme end of the table, has risen 
perturbed from his seat ; he leans forward with a look 
of eager attention, the lips parted ; he is impatient to 
licar more. (The fine copy of Uirgione, in tlie IJoyal 
Academy, docs not give tliis anxious look, — he is at- 
tentive only.) On the left of our Saviour is St. James 
jNIajor, who has also a family resemblance to Christ ; 
his arms are outstretched, he shrinks back, he repels 
the tliought with horror. The vivacity of the action 
and expression are wonderfully true and characteristic. 
(Morghen, the engraver, erroneously supposed this to 
represent St. Thomas, and placed on the border of his 
robe an inscription fixing tlic identity ; which inscrip- 
tion, as Bossi asserts, never did exist in the original 
])icture.) St. Thomas is behind St. James, rather 
young, with a short beard ; he holds up his hand, 
threatening, — "If there be indeed such a wretch, let 
him look to it." Philip, young and with a beautiful 
liead, lays his hand on his heart : he protests his love, 
his truth. Matthew, also Iteardless, lias more elegance, 
as one who belonged to a more educated class than the 
rest ; he turns to Jude and points to our Saviour, as 
if al)0ut to repeat his words, " Do you hear wliat he 
says?" Simon and Jude sit together (Leonardo has 
followed the tradition which makes them old and 
brothers) ; Jude expresses consternation ; Simon, with 
his hands stretched out, a painful anxiety. 

To understand the wonderful skill with which this 
composition has been arranged, it ought to be studied 
long and minutely ; and, to appreciate its relative ex- 
cellence, it ought to be compared with other produc- 
tions of the same period. Leonardo has contrived to 
break the formality of the line of heads without any 
apparent artifice, and without disturbing the grand 
simplicity of the usual order ; and he has vanquished 
the difficulties in regard to the position of Judas, with- 
out making him too prominent. He has imparted to 
a solemn scene sufificieut movement and variety of ac. 


tion, without detracting' from its dignity and pathos , 
he has kept the expression of each head true to the 
traditional character, without exaggeration, without ef- 
fort. To have done this, to have been the first to do 
this, required the far-reacliing philosophic mind, not 
less than the excelling hand, of this " miracle of na- 
ture," as Mr. Hallam styles Leonardo, with reference 
to his scientific as well as his artistic powers. 

And now to turn to another miracle of nature, Ra- 
phael. He has given us three compositions for the 
Last Supper. The fresco lately discovered in the re- 
fectory of Sant' Onofrio, at Florence, is an early work 
painted in his twenty-third year (a. d. 1505). The 
authenticity of this picture has been vehemently dis- 
puted ; for myself — as far as my opinion is worth 
anything — I never, after the first five minutes, had a 
doubt on the subject. As to its being the work of 
Neri de' Bicci, I do not believe it possilile ; and as for 
the written documents brought forward to prove this, I 
turn from them to "the handwriting on the wall," and 
there I see, in characters of light, Raphael, — and 
him only. It is, however, a youthful work, full of sen- 
timent and grace, but deficient, it a])pears to me, in 
that depth and discrimination of character displayed 
in his later works. It is evident that he had studied 
Giotto's fresco in the neighboring Santa Croce. The 
arrangement is nearly the same. 

Christ is in the centre ; his right hand is raised, and 
he is about to speak ; the left hand is laid, with ex- 
treme tenderness in the attitude and expression on the 
shoulder of John, who reclines upon him. To the 
right of Christ is St. Peter, the head of the usual 
character ; next to him St. Andrew, with the flowing 
gray hair and long divided beard ; St. James Minor, 
the head declined and resembling Christ : he holds a 
cup. St. Philip is seen in profile with a white beard 
(this is contrary to the received tradition, which makes 
him young ; and I doubt the correctness of this appel- 


lation). St. James Major, at the extreme end of the 
table, looks out of the picture ; Rapliael has appar- 
ently represented himself in this apostle. On the left 
of Christ, after St. John, is St. Bartholomew; he holds 
a knife, and has the black beard and dark complexion 
usually given to him. Then Matthew, something like 
Peter, but milder and more refined. Thomas, young 
and handsome, pours wine into a cup ; last, on the 
right, are Simon and Jude : Raphael has followed 
tlie tradition which supposes them young, and the 
kinsmen of our Saviour. Judas sits on a stool on 
the near side of the table, opposite to Christ, and 
ivhile he dips his hand into the dish he looks round 
to the spectators ; he has the Jewish features, red hair 
and beard, and a bad expression. All have glories 
but the glory round the head of Judas is much smaller 
than the others.* 

In the second composition, one of the series of the 
life of Christ, in the Loggie of the Vatican, Raphael 
has placed the apostles round a table, four on each of 
the three sides ; our Saviour presiding in the centre. 
John and Peter, who are, as usual, nearest to Christ, 
look to him with an animated appealing expression. 
Judas is in front, looking away from the rest, and as 
if about to rise. The other heads are not well dis- 
criminated, nor is the moment well expressed : there 
is, indeed, something confused and inharmonious, un- 
like Raphael, in the whole composition. I pass it 
over, therefore, without further remark, to come to 
the third example, — a masterpiece of his later years, 
worthy as a composition of being compared with Leo- 
nardo's ; but, never having been painted, we can only 
pronounce it perfect as far as it goes. The original 
drawing enriches the collection of the Queen of Eng- 
land : the admirable engraving of Marc Antonio, said 
to have been touched by Raphael, is before me while I 

* This is also observable Id ttie Last Supper by Niccolo Petri in 
the San Francesco at Pisa. 


write. From the disposition of the unshod feet as seen 
under tlie tabic, it is styled by collectors " il pezzo del 
piedi " : from the arrani;ement of the table and figures 
it was probably designed for a refectory. 

In the centre is Christ, with both hands resting 
on the table ; in the head, a melancholy resignation. 
Peter is on the right, his hand on his breast. John, 
on the left, places both hands on his breast, with a 
most animated expression, — "You cannot believe it 
is I ? " Andrew has laid his hand on the shoulder of 
Peter, and leans forward with a sad interrogative ex- 
pression. The head of Judas has features akin to 
those of the antique satyr, with the look askance of 
a detected villain : he has heard the words, but he 
dare not meet tiie eye, of his Divine Master : he has 
no purse. James Minor, next to John, with his hands 
extended, seems to speak sadly to I'hilip : " And they 
began to inquire among themselves, wiiicli of them 
should do this thing 1 " The whole composition is 
less dramatic, has less variety of action and attitude, 
than that of Leonardo, but is full of deep melancholy 

The Cenacolo of Andrea del Sarto, in the Convent 
of the Salvi near Florence, takes, I believe, the third 
rank after those of Leonardo and Ra'phael. He has 
chosen the selfsame moment, " One of you shall be- 
tray me." The figures are, as usual, ranged on one 
side of a long table. Christ, in the centre, holds a 
piece of bread in his hand ; on his left is St. John, 
and on his right St. James Major, both seen in profile. 
The face of St. John expresses interrogation ; that of 
St. James, interrogation and a start of amazement. 
Next to St. James are Peter, Thomas, Andrew ; then 
Philip, who has a small cross upon his breast. After 
St. John come James Minor, Simon, Jude, Judas Is- 
cariot, and Bartholomew. Judas, with his hands folded 
together, leans forward, and looks down, with a round 
mean face, in which there is no power of any kind, 


not even of malicnity. In passing almost immediatelj 
from the Cenacolo in the St. Onofrio to tliat in the 
Salvi, we feel strongly all the difference between the 
mental and moral superiority of Raphael at the age 
of twenty, and the artistic greatness of Andrea in the 
maturity of his age and talent. This fresco deserves 
its higli celebrity. It is impossible to look on it with- 
out admiration, considered as a work of art. The 
variet}' of the attitudes, the disposition of the limljs 
beneath the table, the ample, tasteful draperies, deserve 
the highest praise ; but the heads are deficient in char- 
acter and elevation, and the whole composition wants 
that solemnity of feeling proper to the subject. 

The Cenacolo of Titian, painted for Philip II. for 
the altar of his chapel in the Escurial, is also a notable 
example of the want of proper reverential feeling : two 
servants are in attendance ; Judas is in front, averting 
his head, which is in deep shadow ; a dog is under the 
table, and tlie Holy Ghost is descending from above. 

Niccolb Poussin has three times painted the Cena- 
colo. In the two series of the Seven Sacraments, he 
has, of course, represented the institution of the Eu- 
charist, as proper to his subject ; in both instances, in 
that pure and classical taste proper to himself. In the 
best and largest composition, the apostles are reclining 
on couches round the table. Christ holds a plate full 
of bread, and appears as saying " Take, eat." Four 
are putting the morsel into their mouths. Judas is 
seen behind, with an abject look, stealing out of the 

The faults which I have observed in pictures of this 
subject are chiefly met with in the Venetian, Flemish, 
and later Bolognese schools. When the motif selected 
is the institution of the Eucharist, it is a fault to sacri- 
fice the solemnity and religious import of the scene in 
order to render it more dramatic : it ought not to be 
dramatic ; but the pervading sentiment should be otie, 


a deep and awful reverence. When Christ is distribut- 
ing the bread and wine, the apostles should not be 
conversing witli each other ; nor should the figures 
exceed twelve in number, for it appears to me that 
the introduction of Judas disturbs tlie sacred harmony 
and tranquillity of the scene. When the vwtif is the 
celebration of the Passover, or the detection of Judas, 
a more dramatic and varied arrangement is necessary ; 
but, here, to make the apostles intent on eating and 
drinking, as in some old German pictures, is a fault. 
Even Albano has represented one of the apostles as 
peeping into an empty wine-pitcher with a disappointed 

It appears to me, also, a gross fault to introduce 
dogs and cats, and other animals ; although I have 
heard it observed, that a dog gnawing a bone is intro- 
duced with propriety, to siiow that the supper is over, 
the Paschal Lamb eaten, before the moment repre- 

Vulgar heads, taken from vulgar models, or selected 
without any regard eitlier to the ancient types, or the 
traditional ciiaracter of the diHerent apostles, are de- 
fects of frccjucut occurrence, especially in the older 
German schools ; and iu Titian, Paul Veronese, and 
Rubens, even where the heads are otherwise fine and 
expressive, the Scriptural truth of character is in gen- 
eral sacrificed. 

It is a fault, as I have already observed, to represent 
Judas anxiously concealing the purse. 

Holbein, in his famous Last Supper, at Basle, and in 
the small one iu the Louvre, lias adopted the usual ar- 
rangement : the heads all want elevation ; but here the 
attention fixes at once upon Judas Iscariot, — the very 
ideal of scoundrelisin, — 1 can use no other word to 
express the unmitigated ugliness, vulgarity, and bru- 
tality of the face. Lavater has referred to it as an 
example of the physiognomy proper to cruelty and 



avarice ; but the dissimulation is wanting. This base, 
eager, hungi-y-looking villain stands betrayed by his 
own looks : he is too prominent ; he is in fact thg 
principal figure ; — a fault in taste, feeling, and pro- 

The introduction of a great . number of figures, as 
spectators or attendants, is a fault ; excusable, perhaps, 
where the subject is decorative and intended for the 
wall of a refectory, but not otherwise. In the compo- 
sition of Paul Veronese, there are twenty-three figures ; 
in that of Zucchero, forty-five ; in that of Baroccio, 
twenty-one. These supernumerary persons detract from 
the dignity and solemnity of the scene. 

Tintoretto has introduced several spectators, and 
among them an old woman spinning in a corner, 
who, while she turns her spindle, looks on with an 
observant eye. This alludes to an early tradition, 
that the Last Supper was eaten in the house of Mary, 
the mother of Mark the Evangelist. But it is no- 
where said that she was present, and therefore it is 
an impropriety to introduce her. Magnificent archi- 
tecture, as in the picture by B. Peruzzi (who, by 
the way, was an architect), seems objectionable : but 
equally unsuitable is the poor dismantled garret in 
this picture of Tintoretto ; for the chamber in which 
the scene took place was " the guest-chamber," a large 
upper room, ready prepared ; and as it was afterwards 
the scene of the Pentecost, it must have held more 
than a hundred persons. 

It is a fault, as I have already observed, to represent 
John as asleep on the breast or the shoulder of our 

Thougfi countenanced by the highest authorities in 
Art, I believe it must be considered as a fault, or aV 
least a mistake, to represent our Saviour and his apos- 


ties as seated, instead of reclining round the table. It 
is a fault, not merely because the use of the triclinium 
or couch at all social meals was general in the antique 
times, — for the custom of sitting upright was not so 
entirely extinct among the Jews but that it might on 
any other occasion have been admissible, — but, from 
peculiar circumstances, it became in this instance an 
impropriety. We know that when the Passover was 
first instituted the Jews were enjoined to eat it stand- 
ing, as men in haste, with girded loins and sandalled 
feet : but afterwards it was made imperative tbat they 
should eat it in an attitude of repose, lying upon 
couches, and as men at ease ; and the reason for 
this was, that all tlie circumstances of the meal, and 
particularly the attitude in which it was eaten, should 
indicate the condition of security and freedom which 
the Israelites enjoyed after their deliverance from the 
Egyptian bondage. In the then imperfect state of 
Biblical criticism, this fact seems to have been un- 
known to the earlier ai'tists, or disregarded by those 
who employed and directed tiicm. Among modern 
artists, Poussin and Le Sueur have scrupulously at- 
tended to it, even when the moment chosen is the 
mystical distribution of the bread and wine which 
succeeded the Paschal Supper. Commentators have 
remarked, that if Christ and his disciples reclined at 
table, then, supposing Christ to have the central place 
of honor, the head of John would have been near to 
the bosom of Christ : but under these circumstances, 
if Judas were sufficiently near to receive the sop from 
the hand of Cinist, then he must have reclined next to 
him on the other side, and have taken precedence of 
Peter. This supposed a propinquity which the early 
Christian artists deemed offensive and inadmissible. 

In the composition by Stradano the arrangement of 
the table and figures is particularly well maifagcd : all 
recline on couches : in the centre of the table is a dish, 
to which Christ extends his hand, and Judas, who is 


here rather handsome tlian otherwise, at the same time 
stretches fortli his ; the moment is evidently, " He that 
dippeth with me in tlie disli, the same shall betray 
me." Two circumstances spoil this picture, and bring 
it dowA to the level of the vulgar and the common- 
place. In the background' is seen a kitchen and the 
cooking of the supper. Under Judas crouclics a hide- 
ous demon, with horns, hoof, and tail, visible only to 
the spectator. 

When the Cenacolo represents the Eucharist, it is, 
perhaps, allowable to introduce angels, because it was, 
and I believe is, an established belief, that, visible or 
invisible, they are always present at the Sacrament. 
The Holy Ghost descending from .above is unsanc- 
tioned by Scripture, but may serve to mark the mys- 
tical and peculiar solemnity of the moment chosen for 
representation. It may signify, " He that receiveth 
me, receiveth Him tliat sent me." But where angels 
attend, or where the Spiritual Comforter comes floating 
down from above, then the presence of Judas, or of 
any superfluous figures as spectators or servitors, or 
of dogs or other animals, becomes a manifest impro- 

The introduction of the Devil in person as tempting 
Judas is rendered pardonable by the naivete of the early 
painters : in the later schools of art it is offensive and 

The Cenacolo of Baroccio, painted by order of 
Clement VIII. (1594) for his family chapel in the 
Santa Maria-sopra-Minerva, is remarkable for an anec- 
dote relating to it. Baroccio, who was not eminent 
for a correct taste, had in his first sketch reverted to 
the ancient fashion of placing Satan close behind Ju- 
das, whispering in his ear, and tempting him to betray 
his Master. The Pope expressed his dissatisfaction, — 
" che non gli piaceva il demonio si dimesticasse tanto con 
Gesu Crista," — and ordered him to remove the offen- 
sive figure. This is not the last example of the aa- 



cient manner of treatment. In the Cenacolo of Fran 
ceschini, painted nearly a century later, two angels are 
attending on the sacred repast, while Judas is in the 
act of leaving the room, conducted by Satan in person. 

It is surely a fault, in a scene of such solemn and 
sacred import, to make the head of Judas a vehicle for 
public or private satire, by giving him the features of 
some obnoxious personage of the time.* This, ac- 
cording to tradition, has been done in some instances. 
Perhaps the most remarkable example that could be 
cited is the story of Andrea del Castagno, who, after 
having betrayed and assassinated his friend Domenico 
Veneziano, painted himself in the character of Judas : 
a curious instance of remorse of conscience. 

Volumes might be written on the subject of the 
Last Supper. It extends before me, as I think and 
write, into endless suggestive associations, which, for 
the present, I dare not follow out : but I shall have 
occasion to return to it hereafter.t 

St. Barnabas. 
Ital San Barnab^. Fr. Saint Barnabe. June 11. 

St. Baknabas is usually entitled the Apostle Bar- 
nabas, because he was associated with the Apostles 
in their high calling ; " and," according to Lardner, 
" though without that large measure of inspiration 
and high authority which was peculiar to the Twelve 
Apostles, properly so called, yet he is to be considered 
as Apostolical, and next to them in sanctity." For this 
reason I place him here. 

St. Barnabas was a Levite, bom in the island of 

* For a signal example, see Stirling's " Artists of Spain," p. 493. 
\ For some remarks on the subject of the Pentecost, see '' Le- 
gends of the Madonna." 



Cyprus, and the cousin-german of Mark the Evan- 
gelist. The notices of his life and character scattered 
through the Acts invest him with great personal in- 
terest. He it was who, after the conversion of Paul, 
was the first to believe in his sincerity, and took cour- 
age to present him to the other apostles, "who were 
afraid of him, and would not believe that he was a 
disciple." (Acts xv. 39.) Barnabas afterwards be- 
came the fellow-laborer of Paul, and attended him to 
Antioch. We are told that " he was a good man, 
full of the Holy Ghost and of faith " ; and to this the 
legendary traditions add, that he was a man of a most 
comely countenance, of a noble presence, grave and 
commanding in his step and deportment ; and thence, 
when he and Paul were at Lystra together, " they 
called Barnabas Jupiter, and Paul Mercurius." Sub- 
sequently, however, Paul and Barnabas fell into a dis- 
pute concerning Mark, and separated. The tradition 
relates that Barnabas and Mark remained for some 
time together, being united by the ties of friendship, 
as well as by those of kindred. Barnabas preached 
the Gospel in Asia Minor, Greece, and Italy ; and 
there is an old legendary tradition that he was the 
first bishop of Milan. The legend also relates that 
everywhere he carried with him the Gospel of St. 
Matthew, written by the hand of the Evangelist, 
preaching what was written therein ; and when any 
were sick, or possessed, he laid the sacred writing upon 
their bosom, and they were healed ; (a beautiful alle- 
gory this!) and it happened that as he preached in a 
synagogue of Juda3a against the Jews, they were seized 
with fury, and took him and put him to a cruel death. 
But Mark and the other Christians buried him with 
many tears. 

The body of St. Barnabas remained in its place of 
sepulture till the days of the Emperor Zeno, wten, 
according to Nicepboras, it was revealed in a dream 
to Antemius that the apostle rested in a certain spot, 
and would be found there, with the Gospel of St. Mat- 


tbew lying on his bosom. And so it happened : the 
remains were found ; the Gospel was carried to the 
Bmperor at Constantinople ; and a church was built, 
dedicated to St. Bai-nabas. 

It is, I presume, in consequence of his being the 
kinsman of St. Mark, that Barnalias is more popular 
at Venice than elsewhere, and that devotional figures 
of him are rarely found except in Venetian pictures. 
He is represented as a man of majestic pi'csence, hold- 
ing in his hand the Gospel of St. Matthew, as in a fine 
picture by Bonifazio : in his church at Venice he is 
represented over the high altar, throned as bishop, 
while St. Peter stands below. 

He often occurs in subjects taken from the Acts and 
the life of St. Paul. In the scene in which he pre- 
sents Paul to the other apostles, he is the principal 
personage ; but in the scene at Paphos, where Elymas 
is struck blind, and at Lystra, he is always secondary 
to his great companion. 



^i^^l^HE Evangelists and the Apostles represented 
i^)F|X^#/i in Alt tlie Spiritual Church, and took their 
&HjW: place among the heavenly influences. The 

cM>^f] great Fathers or Doctors were the represent- 
atives of the Church Militant on earth : as teachers 
and pastors, as logicians and advocates, they wrote, 
argued, contended, suffered, and at length, after a 
longb and fierce struggle against opposing doctrines, 
thev fixed the articles of faith thereafter received in 
Christendom. For ages, and down to the present 
time, the prevailing creed has heen that which was 
founded on tlie interpretations of these venerahle per- 
sonages. The}^ have hecome, in consequence, frequent 
and important subjects of Art, particularly from the 
tenth century, — the period wJien, in their personal 
character, they began to be regarded not merely as 
gifted and venerable, but as divinely inspired ; their 
writings appealed to as infallible, their arguments ac- 
cepted as demonstration. Wc distinguish them as the 
Latin and the Greek Fathers. In Western Art, we 
find the Latin Fathers perpetually grouped together, 
or in a series : the Greek Fathers seldom occur except 
in their individual character, as saints rather than as 


The four Latin Doctors are St. Jerome, St. Am- 
brose, St. Augustine, and St. Gregory. When repre- 
sented together, they are generally distinguished from 
each other, and from the sacred personages who may 
be grouped in the same picture, by their conventional 
attribiites. Tims St. Jerome is sometimes habited in 
the red hat and crimson robes of a cardinal, with a 
church in his hand ; or he is a half-naked, bald-headed, 
long-bearded, emaciated old man, with eager, wasted 
features, holding a book and pen, and attended by a 
lion. St. Ambrose wears the episcopal robes as bishop 
^f Milan, with mitre and crosier, and holds his book ; 
sometimes, also, he carries a knotted scourge, and a 
bee-hive is near him. St. Augustine is also habited 
as a bishop, and carries a book ; he has often books at 
his feet, and sometimes a flaming heart transpierced by 
an arrow. The origin and signification of these sym- 
bols I shall explain presently. 

In the most ancient churches the Four Doctors are 
placed after the Evangelists. In the later churches 
they are seen combined or grouped with the Evan- 
gelists, occasionally also with the sibyls ; but this 
seems a mistake. The appropriate place of the sibyls 
is neither with the Evangelists nor the Fathers, but 
among the prophets, where Michael Angelo has placed 

Where the principal subject is the glory of Christ, 
or the coronation or assumption of the Virgin, the 
Four Fathers attend with their books as witnesses and 

1. A conspicuous instance of this treatment is the 
dome of San Giovanni at Parma. In the centre is 
the ascension of Christ, around are the twelve apostles 
gazing upwards ; below them, in the spandrils of the 
arches, as if bearing recoi-d, are the Four Evangelists, 
each with a Doctor of the Church seated by him as 
Interpreter : St. Matthew is attended by St. Jerome ; 


St. Mark, by St. Gregory ; St. Luke, by St. Augus- 
tine ; and St. John, by St. Ambrose. 

2. A picture in the Louvre by Pier-Francesco Sacchi 
(a. d. 1640) represents the Four Doctors, attended, or 
rather inspired, by the mystic symbols of tiie Four 
EvangeHsts. They are seated at a table, under a 
canopy sustained by slender pillars, and appear in 
deep consultation : near St. Augustine is the eagle ; 
St. Gregory has the ox ; St. Jerome, the angel ; and 
St. Ambrose, the lion. 

3. In a well-known woodcut after Titian, " The 
Triumph of Christ," the Redeemer is seated in a 
car drawn by the Four Evangelists ; while the Four 
Latin Doctors, one at each wheel, put forth all their 
strength to urge it on. The patriarchs and prophets 
precede, the martyrs and confessors of the faith follow, 
in grand procession. 

4. In a Coronation of the Virgin, very singularly 
treated, we have Christ and the Virgin on a high plat- 
form or throne, sustained by columns ; in the space 
underneath, between these columns, is a group of un- 
winged angels, holding the instruments of the Passion. 
(Or, as I have sometimes thought, this beautiful group 
may be the souls of the Innocents, their proper place 
being under the throne of Christ.) On each side a vast 
company of prophets, apostles, saints, and martyrs, 
ranged tier above tier. Immediately in front, and" on 
the steps of the throne, are tlie Four Evangelists, seated 
each with his symbol and book : behind them the Four 
Fathers, also seated. This picture, which as a painting 
is singularly beautiful, the execution finished, and the 
heads most characteristic and expressive, may be said 
to comprise a complete system of the theology of the 
middle ages.* 

5. We have the same idea carried out in the lower 
part of Raphael's Disputa in the Vatican. The Four 
Doctors are in the centre of what may be called the 
%ublunary part of the picture : they are "the only seated 

* Acad. Venice. Giovanni ed Antonio da Murano. 1440. 


figures in the vast assembly of holy, wise, and learned 
men around ; St. Gregory and St. Jerome on the right 
of the altar, St. Ambrose and St. Augustine on the 
left. As the two latter wear the same paraphernalia, 
they are distinguished by having books scattered at 
their feet, on which are inscribed the titles of their 
respective works. 

The Madonna and Child enthroned, with the Doc- 
tors of the Church standing on each side, is a sub- 
ject which lias been often, and sometimes beautifully, 
treated •, and here the contrast between all we can con- 
ceive of virginal and infantine loveliness and innocence 
enshrined in heavenly peace and glory — and these sol- 
emn, bearded, grand-looking old Fathers, attending in 
humble reverence, as types of earthly wisdom — ought 
to produce a magnificent effect, when conceived in the 
right spirit. I can remember, however, but few in- 
stances in which the treatment is complete and satis- 

1. One of these is a picture by A. Vivarini (a. d. 
1446), now in tiie Academy at Venice. Here, tlie 
Virgin sits upon a throne under a rich canopy sus- 
tained by four little angels. Slie looks out of the 
picture with a most dignilied, tranquil, goddess-like 
expression ; she wears, as usual, the crimson tunic 
and blue mantle, the latter being of a most brilliant 
azure ; on her brow, a magnificent jewelled crown ; 
the Divine Child stands on her knee, and raises his 
little hand to bless the worshipper. To the right of 
the Virgin, and on the platform of her throne, stands 
St. Jerome, robed as cardinal, and bearing his church ; 
with St. Gregory, habited as Pope. To the left stands 
St. Ambrose, holding his crosier and knotted scourge, 
and St. Augustine with his book. This is a wonder- 
ful picture, and, as a specimen of the early Venetian 
school, unequalled. The accuracy of imitation, the 
dazzling color, the splendid dresses and accessories, the 
grave beauty of the Madonna, the divine benignity of 



the Infant Redeemer, and the sternly thoughtful heads 
of the old Doctors, are not only positively fine, but 
have a relative interest and value as being stamped 
with that very peculiar character which belonged to 
the Vivarini and their immediate followers. It was 
painted for the Scuola della Carita.* 

2. A different and a singular treatment of the Four 
Fathers occurs in another Venetian picture.! Christ 
is represented seated on a throne, and disputing with 
the Jewish doctors, who are eagerly arguing or search- 
ing their books. In front of the composition stand St- 
Jerome, St. Ambrose, St. Augustine, and St. Gregory ; 
who, with looks fixed on the youthful Saviour, appear 
to be reverentially listening to, and recording, his 
words. This wholly poetical and ideal treatment of 
a familiar passage in the life of Christ I have never 
seen but in this one instance. 

3. A third example is a picture hy Jloretto, of ex- 
traordinary beauty. t The Virgin sits on a lofty throne, 
to wliich there is an ascent of several steps ; the Child 
stands on her right ; she presses liim to her with ma- 
ternal tenderness, and his arms are round her neck. 
At the foot of the throne stand St. Ambrose with liis 
scourge, and St. Augustine ; St. Gregory, wearing the 
])apal tiara, and without a beard, is seated on a step of 
the throne, holding an open book ; and St. Jerome, 

* As I have frequent occasion to refer to pictures painted for 
the Sciiole of Venice, it may be as well to observe that the word 
scuola., wiiich we translate school, is not a place of education, 
but a confraternity for charitable purposes, — visiting the sick, 
providing hospitals, adopting orphans, redeeming prisoners and 
captives, &c. In the days of the republic these schools were 
richly supported and endowed, and the halls, churches, and 
chapels attached to them were often galleries of art : such were 
the schools of St. Mark, St. Ursula, St. Roch, the Carit'i, and 
others. Unhappily, they exist no longer ; the French seized on 
their funds, and Austria does not like confraternities of any kind, 
The Scuola della Carit'i is now the Academy of Arts. 

r Acad. Venice. Gio. da Udine. 

t Frankfort Museum. 


kneeling on one knee, points to a passage in it ; he 
wears the cardinal's dress complete. This picture is 
worthy of Titian in tlie riclmess of the cti'ect, with a 
more sober grandeur in the color. The Virgin is too 
much like a portrait ; this is the only fault.* 

In the Chapel of San Lorenzo, in the Vatican, An- 
gclico has painted eight Doctors of the Church, single 
majestic ligures standing under Gothic canopies. Ac- 
cording to the names now to be seen inscribed on the 
pedestals beneath, these figures represent St. Jerome,! 
St. Ambrose, St. Augustine, St. Gregory, St. Athana- 
sius, St. Leo, St. John Chrysostom, and St. Thomas 
Aquinas. St. John Chrysostom and St. Athanasius 
represent the Greek doctors. St. Leo, who saved 
Rome from Attila, is with peculiar propriety placed 
in the Vatican ; and St. Thomas Aquinas, the angelic 
doctor, naturally finds a place in a chapel painted by a 
Dominican for a Po])e who particularly favored the 
Dominicans, — Nicholas V. 

The Four Fathers communing on the mystery of 
the Trinity, or the Immaculate Conception, were fa- 
vorite subjects in the beginning of the seventeenth 
century, when Church pictures, instead of being relig- 
ious and devotional, became more and more theologi- 
cal. There is an admirable picture of this subject by 
Dosso Dossi.| Above is seen the Messiah, as Creator, 

* We missed the opportunity, now never more to be recalled, of 
obtaining this admirable picture when it was sold out of the Fesch 

t I believe the figure called St. Bonaventura to represent St. 
Jerome, because, in accordance with the usual scheme of ecclesi- 
astical decoration, the greatest of the four Latin fathers would 
take the first place, and the cardinal's hat and the long flowing 
beard are his proper attribute ; whereas there is no example of a 
St. Bonaventura with a beard, or wearing the monastic habit with- 
out the Franciscan cord. The Arundel Society have engraved thia 
fine figure under the name of St. Bonaventura, 

1 Dresden Gal. 



in a glory ; he lays his hand on the head of the Vir- 
gin, who kneels in deep humility before him ; St. 
Gregory sits in profound thought, a pen in one hand, 
a tablet in the other ; St. Ambrose and St. Augustine 
are similarly engaged ; St. Jerome, to whom alone the 
celestial vision appears to be visible, is looking up with 
awe and wonder. Guido, in a celebrated picture,* has 
represented the Doctors of the Church communing on 
the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin. The fig- 
ures are admirable for thoughtful depth of character iu 
the expression, and for the noble arrangement of the 
draperies ; above is seen the Virgin, floating amid 
clouds, in snow-white drapery, and sustained by an- 
gels ; visible, however, to St. Jerome and St. Ambrose 

Rubens has treated the Fathers several times ; the 
colossal picture in the Grosvenor Gallery is well known, 
where they appear before us as moving along in a 
grand procession : St. Jerome comes last (he should 
be first ; but on these points Rul)ens was not partic- 
ular) : he seems in deep contemplation, enveloped in 
the rich scarlet robes of a cardinal of the seventeenth 
century, and turning the leaves of his great book. In 
another picture we have the Four Fathers seated, dis- 
cussing the mystery of the Eucharist ; St. Jerome 
points to a passage in the Scriptures ; St. Gregory is 
turning the page ; they appear to be engaged in argu- 
ment ; the other two are listening earnestly. There is 
another picture by Rubens in which the usual attributes 
of the Fathers are borne aloft by angels, while they sit 
communing below. 

These examples will suffice to give a general idea of 
the manner in which the four great Doctors of the 
Western Church are grouped in devotional pictures. 
We will now consider them separately, each according 
to his individual character and history. 

* Imp. Gal , St- Petersburg. 


St. Jerome. 

Lat. Sanctus nieronymus. Ital. Geroninio or Girolamo. Fr. 
Saint Jerome, Hierome, or Geroisme. Ger. Der Ueilige Hier.j- 
nimus. Patron of scholars and students, and more particularly 
of students in theology. Sept. 30, a. d. 420. 

Of the four Latin Doctors, St. Jerome, as a subject 
of painting, is by far the most popular. Tiie reasons 
for tliis are not mercl^^ the exceedingly interesting and 
striking character of the man, and the picturesque inci- 
dents of his life, but also his great importance and dig- 
nity as founder of Monachism in the West, and as au- 
thor of the universally received translation of the Old 
and New Testament into the Latin language (called 
"The Vulgate"). There is scarcely a collection of 
pictures in which we do not find a St. Jerome either 
doing penance in the desert, or writing his fiinious 
translation, or meditating ou the mystery of the Incar- 

Jerome wa? born al)Out a. d. 342, at Stridonium, in 
Dalmatia. His father, Eusebius, was rich ; and as he 
showed the happiest disposition for learning, he was 
sent to Rome to finish his studies. There, through his 
own passions, and the evil example of his companions, 
he fell into temptation, and for a time abandoned him- 
self to worldly pleasures. But the love of virtue, as 
well as the love of learning, was still strong within him : 
he took up the profession of law, and became celebrat- 
ed for his eloquence in pleading before the tribunals. 
When more than thirty, he travelled into Gaul, and 
visited the schools of learning there. It wns about this 
time that he was baptized, and vowed himself to per- 
petual celibacy. In 373, he travelled into the East, to 
animate his piety by dwelling for a time among the 
scenes hallowed by the presence of the Saviour ; and, 
on his wav thither, he visited some of the famous Ori- 



ental hermits and ascetics, of whom lie has given us 
such a graphic account, and whose example inspired 
him with a passion for solitude and a monastic life. 
Shortly after his arrival in Syria, he retired to a desert 
in Chalcis, on the confines of Arabia, and there he 
spent four years in study and seclusion, supporting 
himself by the labor of his hands. He has left us a 
most vivid picture of his life of penance in the wilder- 
ness ; of his trials and temptations, his fastings, his 
sickness of soul and body : and we must dwell for a 
moment on his own description, in order to show with 
what literal and circumstantial truth the painters have 
rendered it. He says, in one of his epistles, " O, how 
often in the desert, in that vast solitude which, parched 
by the sultry sun, atfbrds a dwelling to the monks, did 
I fancy myself in the midst of the luxuries of Rome ! 
I sat alone, for I was full of bitterness. My mis- 
shapen limbs were rough with sackcloth, and my skin 
so squalid that I might have been mistaken for an Ethi- 
opian. Tears and groans were my occu])ation every 
day and all day long. If sleep surprised me unawares, 
my naked bones, which scarcely held together, rattled 
on the earth." His companions, he says, "were scor- 
pions and wild beasts " ; his home, " a recess among 
rocks and precipices." Yet, in the midst of this hor- 
rible self-torture and self-abasement, he describes him- 
self as frequently beset by temptations to sin and sen- 
sual indulgence, and haunted by demons : at other times, 
as consoled by voices and visions from heaven. Be- 
sides these trials of tlie flesh and the spirit, he had others 
of the intellect. His love of learning, his admiration 
of the great writers of classical antiquity, — of Plato 
and Cicero, — made him impatient of the rude simpli- 
city of the Christian historians. He describes himself 
as fasting before he opened Cicero ; and, as a further 
penance, he forced himself to study Hebrew, which at 
iirst filled him with disgust, and this disgust ap])eared 
to liim a capital sin. In one of his distempered vis- 
ions, he fancied he heard the last trumpet sounded in 


his ear by an antrel, and summoning him befoi'e the 
judgment-seat of God. " Who art thou V " demanded 
the awful voice. " A Christian," re])lied the tremhiing 
Jerome. " 'T is false ! " replied the voice, " thou art 
no Christian : thou art a Ciceronian. Where the treas- 
ure is, there will the heart be also." He persevered, 
and conquered the difficulties of Hebrew ; and then, 
wearied by the religious controversies in the East, 
after ten years' residence there, he returned to Eome. 

But neither the opposition he had met with, nor his 
four years of solitude and penance in the desert, had 
subdued the fiery enthusiasm of temperament which 
characterized this celebrated man. At Rome he boldly 
combated the luxurious self-indulgence of the clergy, 
and preached religious abstinence and mortification. 
He was particularly remarkable for the influence he 
obtained over the Koman women ; we find them, sub- 
dued or excited by his eloquent exhortations, devoting 
themselves to perpetual chastit}', distributing their pos- 
sessions among the poor, or spending their days in at- 
tendance on the sick, and ready to follow their teacher 
to the Holy Land, — to the desert, — even to death. His 
most celebrated female convert was Paula, a noble Ro- 
man matron, a descendant of the Scipios and tlie Grac- 
chi. Marcella, another of these Roman ladies, was the 
first who, in the East, collected together a number of 
pious women to dwell together in community : hence 
she is, by some authors, considered as the first nun ; 
but others contend that Martha, the sister of Mary 
Magdalene, was the first who founded a religious com- 
munity of women. 

After three years' sojourn at Rome, St. Jerome re- 
turned to Palestine, and took up his residence in a 
monastery he had founded at Bethlehem. When, in 
extreme old age, he became sensible of the approach 
of death, he raised with effort his emaciated limbs, and, 
commanding himself to be carried into the chapel of 
the monastery, he received the sacrament for the last 
time from the hands of the priest, and soon after ex- 



pired. He died in 420, leaving, besides his famous 
translation of tlie Scriptures, numerous controversial 
writings, epistles, and commentaries. 

We read in tlie legendary history of St. Jerome, 
that one evening, as he sat within the gates of his 
monastery at Bethlehem, a lion entered, limping, as in 
pain ; and all tlio bi'ethren, when they saw the lion, fled 
in terror : but Jerome arose, and went forward to meet 
him, as though he had been a guest. And the lion 
lifted up his paw, and St. Jerome, on examining it, 
found that it was wounded by a thorn, whicli he extract- 
ed ; and he tended the lion till he was healed. The 
grateful beast remained with his benefactor, and Jerome 
confided to him the task of guai-ding an ass which was 
employed in bringing firewood from the forest. On 
one occasion, the lion having gone to sleep while the 
ass was at pasture, some merchants passing by carried 
away the latter ; and the lion after searching for him 
in vain, i-eturned to the monastery with drooping head, 
as one ashamed. St. Jerome, believing that he had 
devoured his companion, commanded that tlie daily 
task of the ass should be laid upon the lion, and that the 
fagots should be bound on his back, to which he mag- 
nanimously submitted, until the ass was recovered ; 
which was iu this wise. One day, the lion, having fin- 
ished his task, ran hither and thither, still seeking his 
companion ; and he saw a caravan of merchants ap- 
proaching, and a string of camels, which, according to 
the Arabian custom, wei'e led by an ass ; and when the 
lion recognized his friend, he drove the camels into the 
convent, and so terrified the merchants, tiiat they con- 
fessed the theft, and received pardon from St. Jerome. 

The introduction of the lion into pictures of St. 
Jerome is supposed to refer to this legend ; but in this 
instance, as in many others, the reverse was really the 
case. The lion was in very ancient times adopted ' 
as the symbol befiiing St. Jerome, from his fervid, 
fiery nature, and his life in the wilderness ; and in 


later times, the legend invented to explain the symbol 
was gradually expanded into the story as given above. 

Representations of St. Jerome, in pictures, prints, 
and sculpture, are so numerous that it were in vain to 
attempt to give any detailed account of them, even of 
the most remarkable. All, however, may be included 
under tiie following classification, and, according to the 
descriptions given, may be easily recognized. 

The devotional subjects and single figures represent 
St. Jerome in one of his three great characters. 1. 
As Patron Saint and Doctor of the Church. 2. As 
Translator and Commentator of the Scriptures. 3. 
As Penitent. As Doctor of the Cliurch, and teacher, 
he enters into every scheme of decoration, and finds a 
place in all sacred iuiildings. As Saint and Penitent, 
he is chiefly to be found in the convents and cluirclies 
of the Jeronymites, who claim him as their Patriarch. 

When placed before us as the patron saint and father 
of divinity, he is usually standing full length, cither 
habited in the cardinal's robes, or with the cardinal's 
hat lying at his feet. It may be necessary to observe, 
that there is no historical authority for making St. Je- 
rome a cardinal. Cardinal-priests were not ordained 
till three centuries later ; but as the other Fathers were 
all of high ecclesiastical rank, and as St. Jerome obsti- 
nately refused all such distinction, it has been thought 
necessary, for the sake of his dignity, to make him a 
cardinal : another reason may be, that he performed, in 
the court of Pope Dalmasius, those otfices since dis- 
charged by the cardinal-deacon. In some of the old 
Venetian pictures, instead of the official robes of a car- 
dinal, he is hal)ited in loose, ample red drapery, part of 
which is thrown over his head. WlTen represented 
with his head uncovered, his forehead is lofty and bald, 
his beard is very long, flowing even to his girdle ; his 
features fine and sharp, his nose aquiline. In his hand 
he holds a book or a scroll, and frequently the emble- 
matical church, of wliich he was the great support and 

ST. JEROME. 305 

luminary : and, to make the application stronger and 
c'hurer, rays of light are seen issuing from the door of 
the chuixh. 

1. A signal instance of the treatment of Jerome as 
patron saint occurs in a fine picture by Wohlgemuth, 
the master of Albert Diii-er.* It is an altar-piece rep- 
reseiiting the glorification of the saint, and consists of 
three compartments. In the centre, St. Jerome stands 
-on a magnificent throne, and lays his left hand on the 
head of a lion, raised up on his hind legs : the donors 
of the picture, a man and a woman, kneel in front ; on 
each side are windows opening on a landscape, wherein 
various incidents of the life of St. Jerome are repre- 
sented ; on the right, his Penance in the Wilderness 
and his Landing at Cyprus ; and on the left, tlie mer- 
chants who had carried otf the ass, bring propitiatory 
gifts, which the saint rejects, and other men are seen 
felling wood and loading the lion. On the inner shut- 
ters or wings of the central picture are represented, on 
the right, the three other doctors, — St. Augustine, 
with the flaming heart ; St. Ambrose, with the bee- 
hive ; both habited as bishops ; and St. Gregory, wear- 
ing his tiara, and holding a large book (his famous 
Homilies) in his hand. On tiie left, three apostles with 
their proper attributes, St. Andrew, St. Thomas, and 
St. Bartholomew ; on the other side are represented to 
the right, St. Henry II. holding a church (the cathedral 
of Bamiierg), and a sword, his proper attributes; and 
his wife St. Cunegunda.t On the left St. Elizabeth of 
Hungary and St. Martin. There are besides, to close 
in the whole, two outer doors : on the inner side, to 
the right, St. Joseph and St. Kilian ; | on the left, St. 
Catherine and St. Ursula ; and on the exterior of the 
whole the mass of St. Gregory, with various person- 

* Vienna Gal. 

t Iq the catalogue, St. Cunegiinda is styled St. Elizabeth, 
Queen of Hungary, and St. Elizabeth of Hungary is styled St. 
Elizabeth, Queen of Portugal. 

X Irish Bishop of Wiirtzburg, and Patron, a. d. 689 


ages and objects connected with the Passion of Cbrist. 
The whole is about six feet high, dated 1511, and may 
bear a comparison, for elaborate and muitifai-ious detail 
and exquisite painting, with the famous "Van Eyck 
altar-piece in St. Jolm's Church at Ghent.* 

2. In his character of patron, St. Jerome is a fre- 
quent subject of sculpture. There is a Gothic figure 
of him in Henry the Seventh's (Jhapel, liabited in the 
cardinal's robes, the lion fawning upon him. 

When St. Jerome is represented in his second great 
character, as the translator of the Scriptures, he is 
usually seated in a cave or in a cell, busied in reading 
or in writing ; he wears a loose robe thrown over his 
wasted form ; and either he looks down intent on his 
book, or he looks up as if awaiting heavenly inspira- 
tion : sometimes an angel is dictating to him. 

1. In an old Italian print, whicli I have seen, he is 
seated on the ground reading, in spectacl^^ ; — an an- 
achronism frequent in the old painters. Sometimes 
he is seated under the shade of a tree ; or within a 
cavern, writing at a rude table formed of a stump of a 
tree, or a board laid across two fragments of rock ; as 
in a beautiful picture liy Ghirlandajo, remarkable for 
its solemn and trancjuil feeling.t 

2. Very celebrated is an engraving of this subject 
by Albert Diirer. The scene is the interior of a cell, 
at Bethlehem ; two windows on the left pour across the 
picture a stream of sunshine, which is represented with 
wonderful effect. St. Jerome is seen in the background, 
geated at a desk, most intently writing his translation 
of the Scriptures ; in front the lion is crouching, and a 

* " la this picture we recognize the master to whom Albert 
Diirer was indebted for his education ; indeed, Wuhlgemutli here 
surpasses his great scholar in the expression of gentleness and sim- 
plicity, particularly in the heads of some of the female saints." — 
Handbook of Painting : German, Flemish, and Dutch Schools, 
p. 111. 

\ Florence, Ogni Santl. 

ST. JEROME. 307 

fox is seen asleep. These two animals are here em- 
blems ; — the one, of the courage and vigilance, the 
other of the wisdom or acuteness, of the saint. The 
execution of tliis print is a miracle of Art, and it is 
very rare. There is an exquisite little picture bv Elz- 
heimer copied from it, and of the same size, at Hamp- 
ton Court. I need hardly observe, that here the rosary 
and the ])ot of holy water are anachronisms, as well as 
the cardinal's hat. By Albert Diirer we have also St. 
Jerome writing in a cavern ; and St. Jerome reading 
in his cell : both woodcuts. 

3. Even more beautiful is a print by Lucas v. Ley- 
den, in which St. Jerome is reclining in his cell and 
reading intently, the lion licks his foot. 

4. In a picture by Lucas Cranach, Albert of Bran- 
denburg, elector of Mayence (1527), is represented in 
the character of St. Jerome, seated in the wilderness, 
and writing at a table formed of a plank laid across 
two stumps of trees : he is in the cardinal-robes ; and 
in the foreground a lion, a hare, a beaver, a partridge, 
and a hind, beautifully painted, express the solitude of 
his life. In the background the caravan of merchants 
is seen entering the gate of the monastery, conducted 
by the faithful lion. 

5. The little picture by Domenichino, in our Na- 
tional Gallery, represents St. Jerome looking up from 
his book, and listening to the accents of the angel. 

6. In a picture by Tiarini,* it is St. John the Evan- 
gelist, and not an angel, who dictates while he writes. 

7. In a picture by Titian, St. Jerome, seated, holds a 
book, and gazes up at a crucifix suspended in the skies ; 
the lion is drinking at a fountain. Out of twenty 
prints of St. Jerome after Titian, there are at least 
eight which represent him at study or writing. 

It is in the double character of Doctor of the Church, 
and translator of the Scriptures, that we find St. Je. 
rome so frequently introduced into pictures of the 

* Bologna, S. Maria Maggiore. 


Madonna, and grouped with other saints. Two of the 
most celebrated pictures in the world suggest them- 
selves here as examples: — 1. "The Madonna della 
Pesce " of Raphael ; where the Virgin, seated on a 
raised throne, holds the Infant Christ in her arms ; on 
her right hand, the archangel Raphael presents the 
young Tohias, who holds the fish, the emblem of Chris- 
tianity or Baptism. On the other side kneels St. Je- 
rome, holding an open book, his beard sweeping to his 
gh-dle ; the lion at his feet ; the Infant Christ, while 
he bends forward to greet Tobias, has one hand upon 
St. Jerome's book : the whole is a beautiful and ex- 
pressive allegory.* 2. Correggio's picture, called " The 
St. Jerome of Parma," represents the Infant Christ on 
the knees of his mother : Mary Magdalene bends to 
kiss his feet : St. Jerome stands in front, presenting his 
translation of the Scriptures. 

The penitent St. Jerome seems to have been adopted 
throughout the Christian Church as the approved sym- 
bol of Christian penitence, self-denial, and self-abase- 
ment. No devotional subject, if we except the " Ma- 
donna and Child " and the " Magdalene," is of such 
perpetual recurrence. In the treatment it has been in- 
finitely varied. The scene is generally a wild, rocky, 
solitude : St. Jerome, half naked, emaciated, with mat- 
ted hair and beard, is seen on his knees before a cruci- 
fix, beating his breast with a stone. The lion is almost 
always introduced, sometimes asleep, or crouching at 
his feet ; sometimes keeping guard, sometimes drinking 
at a stream. The most magnificent example of this 
treatment is by Titian : t St. Jerome, kneeling on one 
knee, half supported by a craggy rock, and holding the 
stone, looks up with eager devotion to a cross, artlessly 
fixed into a cleft in the rock ; two books lie on a cliff 

* The picture, originally at Naples, was purchased or appropri- 
ated by Philip TV. for the Church of the Escurial, which belonged 
to the Jeronymites. 

t Milan, Brera. 




Deliiud ; at his feet are a skull and hour-glass ; and the 
lion reposes in front. The feeling of deep solitude, 
and a kind of sacred horror breathed over this picture, 
are inconceivably fine and impressive. Another by 
Titian, but inferior, is in the Louvre : and there are at 
least twelve engravings of St. Jerome doing penance, 
after the same painter : among them a superb land- 
scape, in which are seen a lion and a lioness prowling 
in the wilderness, while the saint is doing penance in 
the foreground. By Agostino Caracci there is a famous 
engraving of " St. Jerome doing penance in a cave," 
called from its size the great St. Jerome. But to par- 
ticularize further would be endless : I know scarcely 
any Italian painter since the fifteenth centmy who has 
not treated this subject at least once. 

The Spanish painters have rendered it with a gloomy 
power, and revelled in its mystic significance. In the 
Spanish gallery of the Louvre I counted at least twenty 
St. Jeromes : the old German painters and engravers 
also delighted in it, on account of its picturesque capa- 

Albert Diirer represents St. Jerome kneeling before 
a crucifix, which he has suspended against the tnink 
of a massy tree ; an open book is near it ; he holds in 
his right hand a flint-stone, with which he is about to 
strike his breast, all wounded and bleeding from the 
blows already inflicted ; the lion crouches behind him, 
and in the distance is a stag. 

The penitent St. Jerome is not a good subject for 
sculpture ; the undraped, meagre form, and the abase- 
ment of suffering, are disagreeable in this treatment : 
yet such representations are constantly met with in 
churches. The famous colossal statue by Torrigiano, 
now in the Museum at Seville, represents St. Jerome 
kneeling on a rock, a stone in one hand, a crucifix in 
the other. At Venice, in the Frai'i, there is a statue 
of St. Jerome, standing, with the stone in his hand and 
the lion at his feet ; too majestic for the Penitent. 
There are several other statues of St. Jerome at Veu- 


ice, from the Liberi and Lombard! schools, all fine as 
statues ; but the penitent saint is idealized into the pa- 
tron-saint of penitents. 

When figures of St. Jerome as penitent are intro- 
duced in Madonna pictures, or in the Passion of Christ, 
then such figures are devotional, and symbolical, in a 
general sense, of Christian repentance. 

There is an early picture of the Crucifixion, by 
Raphael,* in which he has placed St. Jerome at the 
foot of the cross, beating his breast with a stone. 

The pictures from the life of St. Jerome comprise a 
variety of subjects: — 1. "He receives the cardinal's- 
hat from the Virgin " : sometimes it is the Infant Christ, 
seated in the lap of the Virgin, who presents it to him. 
2. " He disputes with the Jewish doctors on the truth 
of the Christian religion " ; in a curious picture by Juan 
de Valdes.t He stands on one side of a table in an 
attitude of authority : the rabbi, each of whom has a 
demon looking over his shoulder, are searching their 
books for arguments against him. 3. " St. Jerome, 
while studying Hebrew in the solitude of Chalcida, 
hears in a vision the sound of the last trumpet, calling 
men to judgment." This is a common subject, and 
styled " The Vision of St. Jerome." I have met with 
no example earlier thau the fifteenth century. In gen- 
eral he is lying on the ground, and an angel sounds 
the trumpet from above. In a composition by Eibera 
he holds a pen in one hand and a penknife in tlic other : 
he seems to have been arrested in the very act of mend- 
ing his pen by the blast of the trumpet : the figure of 
the saint, wasted even to skin and bone, and his look 
of petrified anuizemcnt, are very fine, notwithstanding 
the commonplace action. In a picture by Subleyras, 
in the Louvre, St. Jerome is gazing upwards, with an 
astonished look ; three archangels sound their trumpets 
from above. In a picture by Antonio Pereda, at Ma- 
drid, St. Jerome not only hears in his vision the sound 
of the last trump, he sees the dead arise from their 

 Collection of Lord Ward. t Louvre, Sp. Gal 

ST. JEROME. 3»i 

graves around him. Lastly, by way of cMmiix, T may 
mention a picture in tlic Louvre, by a i.:oQv:rn "'^icnch 
painter, Sigalon : St. Jerome is ii: a coiivuiGivt;- fit, and 
the three angels, blowing their trunipcts in his ears, 
are like furies sent to torment and mtidden the sinner, 
father than to rouse the saint. 

While doing penance in the desert, St. Jerome was 
Bometimes haunted by temptations, as well as amazed 
by terrors. 

4. Domenichino, in one of the frescos in St. Ono- 
frio, represents the particular kind of temptation by 
which the saint was in imagination assailed : while he 
is fervently praying and beating his breast, a circle of 
beautiful nymphs, seen in the background, weave a 
graceful dance. Vasari has had the bad taste to give 
us a penitent St. Jerome with Venus and Cupids in the 
background : one arch little Cupid takes aim at him ; 
— an offensive instance of the extent to which, in the 
sixteenth century, classical ideas had mingled with and 
depraved Christian Art.* 

5. Guido. " St. Jerome translating the Scriptures 
while an angel dictates " : life-size and very fine (ex- 
cept the angel, who is weak, and reminds one of a 
water-nymph) ; t in his pale manner. 

6. Domenichino. " St. Jerome is flagellated by an 
angel for preferring Cicero to the Hebrew writings " : 
also in the St. Onofrio. The Cicero, torn from his 
hand, lies at his feet. Here the saint is a young man, 
and the whole scene is represented as a vision. 

7. But St. Jerome was comforted by visions of 
glory, as well as haunted by terrors and temptations. 
In the picture by Parmigiano, in our National Gallery, 
St. Jerome is sleeping in the background, while St. 
John the Baptist points upwards to a celestial vision 
of the Virgin and Child, seen in the opening heavens 
above : the upper part of this picture is beautiful, and 

* P. Pitti, Florence. t Lichtenstein 'ial- 


full of dignity ; but the saint is lying stretched on the 
earth in an attitude so uneasy and distorted, that it 
would seem as if he were condemned to do penance 
even in his sleep ; and the St. John has always ap- 
peared to me mannered and theatrical. 

8. The story of the lion is often represented. St. 
Jerome is seated in his cell, attired in the monk's habit 
and cowl ; the lion approaches, and lays his paw upon 
his knee ; a cardinal's hat and- books are lying near 
him ; and, to express the self-denial of the saint, a 
mouse is peeping into an empty cup.* 

In another example, by Vittore Carpaccio, the lion 
enters the cell, and three monks, attendants on St. Je- 
rome, flee in terror. 

9. The Last Communion of St. Jerome is the sub- 
ject of one of the most celebrated pictures in the 
world, — the St. Jerome of Domenichino, which has 
been thought worthy of being placed opposite to the 
Transfiguration of Raphael, in the Vatican. The 
aged saint — feeble, emaciated, dying — is borne in 
the arms of his disciples to the chapel of his monas- 
tery, and placed within the porch. A young priest 
sustains him ; St. Paula, kneehng, kisses one of his 
thin, bony hands ; the saint fixes his eager eyes on the 
countenance of the priest, who is about to administer 
the sacrament, — a noble, dignified figure in a rich 
ecclesiastical dress ; a deacon holds the cup, and an 
attendant priest the book and taper ; the lion droops 
his head with an expression of grief; the eyes and 
attention of all are on the dying saint, while four an- 
gels, hovering above, look down upon the scene. 

Agostino Caracci, in a grand picture now in the Bo- 
logna Gallery, had pi'eviously treated the same subject 
with much feeling and dramatic power : but here the 
saint is not so wasted and so feeble ; St. Paula is not 
present, and the lion is tenderly licking his feet. 

* Kugler pronounces this to be a Flemish picture (u. " Hand 
book," p. 190). 


ST. JEROME. 313 

Older than either, and very beautiful and solemn, is 
a picture by Vittore Carpaceio, in which the saint is 
kneeling in the porch of a church, surrounded by his 
disciples, and the lion is seen outside. 

10. " Tlie Death of St. Jerome." In the picture 
by Stamina he is giving his last instructions to his dis- 
ciples, and the expression of solemn grief in the old 
heads around is very fine. In a Spanish picture he is 
extended on a couch, made of hurdles, and expires in 
the arms of his monks. 

In a very fine anonymous print, dated 1614, St. Je- 
rome is dj'ing alone in his cell (this version of the 
subject is contrary to all authority and precedent): he 
presses to his bosom the Gospel and the crucifix ; the 
lion looks up in his face roaring, and angels bear away 
his soul to heaven. 

11. "The Obsequies of St. Jerome." In the pic- 
ture by Vittore Carpaccio, the saint is extended on the 
ground before the high altar, and the priests around 
are kneeling in various attitudes of grief or devotion. 
The lion is seen on one side.* 

I will mention here some other pictures in which St. 
Jerome figures as the principal personage. 

St. Jerome introducing Chai'les V. into Paradise is 
the subject of a large fresco, by Luca Giordano, on the 
staircase of the Escurial. 

St. Jerome conversing with two nuns, probably in- 
tended for St. Paula and St. ]\Iarcella.t 

The sleep of St. Jerome. He is watched by two 
angels, one of whom, with his finger on his lip, com- 
mands silence-t 

It is worth remarking, that in the old Venetian pic- 

* The three frescos by Carpaccio are in the Church of San Gior- 
gio de' Schiavoni at Venice. 

t It was in the Standish Gal. in the Louvre. 
X Engraved by Loli. 


tures St. Jerome does not wear the proper habit and 
hat of a cardinal, but an ample scarlet robe, part of 
which is thrown over his head as a hood. 

The history of St. Jerome, in a series, is often found 
in the churches and convents of the Jeronymites, and 
generally consists of the following subjects, of which 
the fourth and sixth are often omitted : — 

1. He is baptized. 2. He receives the cardinal's hat 
from the Virgin. 3. He does penance in the desert, 
beating his breast with a stone. 4. He meets St. 
Augustine. .5. He is studying or writing in a cell. 
6. He builds the convent at Bethlehem. 7. He heals 
the wounded lion. 8. He receives the Last Sacrament. 
9. He dies in the presence of his disciples. 10. He is 

Considering that St. Jerome has ever been venerated 
as one of the great lights of the Church, it is singular 
that so i&vf churches are dedicated to him. There is 
one at Rome, erected, according to tradition, on the 
very spot where stood the house of Santa Paula, where 
she entertained St. Jerome during his sojourn at Rome 
in 382. For the high altar of this church, Domeni- 
chino painted his masterpiece of the Communion of 
St. Jerome already described. The embarkation of 
Saint Paula, to follow her spiritual teacher St. Jerome 
to the Holy Land, is the subject of one of Claude's 
most beautiful sea pieces, now in the collection of the 
Duke of Wellington ; another picture of this subject, 
the figures as large as life, is in the Brera, by a clever 
Creraonese painter, Guiseppe Bottoni. 

St. Jerome has detained us long ; the other Fathers 
are, as subjects of Art, much less interesting. 



St. Ambrose 

Lat. S. Ambrosius. Ital. Saut' Ambrogio. Fr. St. Ambrose. 
Ger. Der Heilige Ambrosius. Patron saint of Milan. April 4, 
A. D. 397. 

We can hardly imairine a greater contrast than be- 
tween the stern, enthusiastic, dreaming, ascetic Jerome, 
and the statesmanlike, practical, somewhat despotic 
Ambrose. This extraordinary man, in whose person 
the priestly character assumed an importance and dig- 
nity till then unknown, was the son of a prefect of 
Gaul, bearing the same name, and was born at Treves 
in the year 340. It is said, that, when an infant in the 
cradle, a swarm of bees alighted on his mouth, without 
injuring him. The same story was told of Plato and 
of Archilochus, and considered prophetic of future elo- 
quence. It is from this circumstance that St. Ambrose 
is represented with the beehive near him. 

Young Ambrose, after pursuing his studies at Rome 
with success, was appointed prefect of ^Emilia and Li- 
guria (Piedmont and Genoa), and took up his residence 
at Milan. Shortly afterwards the Bishop of Milaa 
died, and the succession was hotly disputed between the 
Catholics and the Arians. Ambrose appeared in his 
character of prefect, to allay the tumult ; he harangued 
the people with such persuasive eloquence that they 
were hushed into respectful silence ; and in the midst a 
child's voice was heard to exclaim, " Ambrose shall be 
bishop ! " The multitude took up the cry as though 
it had been a voice from heaven, and compelled himto 
assume the sacred office. He attempted to avoid the 
honor thus laid upon him by flight, by entreaties, — 
pleading that, though a professed Christian, he had 
never been baptized. In vain! The command of the 
emperor enforced the wishes of the people ; and Am- 
brose, being baptized, was, within eight days afterwards, 
consecrated bishop of Milan. He has since been re- 
garded as the patron saint of that city. 


He began by distributing all his worldly goods to 
the poor ; he then set himself to study the sacred writ- 
ings, and to render himself in all respects worthy of 
his high dignity. "The Old and the New Testament," 
says Mr. Milman, " met in the person of Ambrose : 
the implacable hostility to idolatry, the abhorrence of 
every deviation from the established formulary of be- 
lief; — the wise and courageous benevolence, the gen- 
erous and unselfish devotion to the great interests of 

He was memorable for the grandeur and magnifi- 
cence with which he invested the ceremonies of worship ; 
they had never been so imposing. He particularly cul- 
tivated music, and introduced from the East the man- 
ner of chanting the service since called the Ambrosian 

Two things were especially remarkable in the life 
and character of St. Ambrose. Tiie first was the en- 
thusiasm with wliich he advocated celibacy in both 
sexes : on this topic, as we are assured, he was so per- 
suasive, that mothers shut up their daughters lest they 
should be seduced by their eloquent bishop into vows 
of chastity. The other was his determination to set 
the ecclesiastical above the sovereign or civil power : 
this principle, so abused in later times, was in the days 
of Ambrose the assertion of the might of Christianity, 
of mercy, of justice, of freedom, over heathenism, tyr- 
anny, cruelty, slavery. The dignity with which he 
refused to liold any communication with the Emperor 
Maximus, because he was stained with the blood of 
Gratian, and his resolute opposition to the Empress 
Justina, who interfered with his sacerdotal privileges, 
were two instances of this spirit. But the most cele- 
brated incident of his life is his conduct with regard to 
the Emperor Theodosius, the last great emperor oif 
Eome ; — a man of an iron will, a despot, and a war- 
rior. That he should bend in trembling submission at 
the feet of au unarmed priest, and shrink before iiis re- 

^T. AMBROSE. 317 

buke, filled the whole world with an awful idea of the 
supremacy of the Church, and prepared the way for 
the Hildebrands, the Perettis, the CarafFas of later 
times. With regard to St. Ambrose, this assumption 
of moral power, this high prerogative of the priest- 
hood, had hitlierto been without precedent, and in this 
its first application it certainly commands our respect, 
our admiration, and our sympathy. 

Theodosius, with all his great qualities, was subject 
to fits of violent passion. A sedition, or rather a pop- 
ular aff'ray, had taken place in Thessalonica ; one of 
his olficers was ill-treated, and some lives lost. Theo- 
dosius, in the first moment of indignation, ordered an 
indiscriminate massacre of the inhabitants, and seven 
thousand human beings — men, women, and children 
— were sacrificed. The conduct of Ambrose on this 
occasion was worthy of a Christian prelate : he retired 
from the presence of the Emperor, and wrote to him a 
letter, in which, in the name of Clirist, of his Church, 
and of all the bishops over whom he had any influence, 
he denounced this inhuman act with the strongest ex- 
pressions of abhorrence, and refused to allow the sov- 
ereign, thus stained with innocent blood, to participate 
in the sacraments of the Church ; — in fact, excommu- 
nicated him. In vain the emperor threatened, suppli- 
cated ; in vain he appeared with all his imperial state 
before the doors of the catliedral of Milan, and com- 
manded and entreated entrance. The doors were 
closed ; and even on Christmas-day, when he again as 
a supplicant presented liimseif, Ambrose ap])earcd at 
the porch, and absolutely forbade his entrance, unless 
he should choose to pass into the sanctuary over the 
dead body of the intrepid bishop. At length, after 
eight months of interdict, Ambrose consented to relent, 
on two conditions : the first, tiiat the emperor should 
publish an edict by which no capital punishment could 
be executed till thirty days after conviction of a crime ; 
the second, that he should perform a public penance. 
The emperor submitted; and, clothed in sackcloth. 


grovelling on the earth, with dust and ashes on his 
head, lay the master of the world before the altar of 
Christ, because of innocent blood hastily and wrong- 
fully shed. This was a great triumph, and one of in- 
calculable results, — some evil, some good. 

Another incident in the life of St. Ambrose should 
be recorded to his honor. In his time, " the first blood 
was judicially shed for religious opinion," — and the 
first man who suffered for heresy was Priscilian, a noble 
Spaniard : on tiiis occasion, St. Ambrose and St. Mar- 
tin of Tours raised their protest in the name of Chris- 
tianity against this dreadful pi-ecedent ; but the animos- 
ity of the Spanish bishops prevailed, and Priscilian was 
put to death ; so early were bigotry and cruelty the 
characteristics of the Spanish liierarchy ! Ambrose re- 
fused to communicate with the few bishops who had 
countenanced this transaction : the genei-al voice of the 
Church was against it. 

The man who had thus raised himself above all 
worldly power was endued by popular enthusiasm with 
supernatural privileges : he performed cures ; he saw 
visions. At the time of the consecration of the new 
cathedral at Milan, a miraculous dream revealed to him 
the martyrdom of two holy men, Gervasius and Pro- 
tasius, and the place where their bodies reposed. The 
remains were disinterred, conveyed in solemn proces- 
sion to the cathedral, and deposited beneath the high 
altar ; and St. Gervasius and St. Protasius became, on 
the faith of a dream, distinguished saints in the Roman 
calendar. Ambrose died at Milan in 397, in the atti- 
tude and the act of prayer. 

There were many poetical legends and apologues re- 
lating to St. Ambrose current in the middle ages. 

It is related that an obstmate heretic who went to 
hear him preach, only to confute and mock him, beheld 
an angel visible at his side, and prompting the words 
he uttered ; on seeing which, the scoffer was of course 
converted ; a subject represented in his church at Milan. 



One day, Ambrose went to the prefect Macedonius, 
to entreat favor for a poor condemned wretch ; but the 
doors were shut against him, and he was refused access. 
Then he said, " Thou, even thou, shalt fly to the 
church for refuge, and shalt not enter ! " and a short 
time afterwards, Macedonius, being pursued by his ene- 
mies, fled for sanctuary to the church ; but though the 
doors were wide open, he could not find the entrance, 
but wandered around in blind perplexity till he was 
slain. Of this incident I have seen no picture. 

On another occasion, St. Ambrose, coming to the 
house of a nobleman of Tuscany, was hospitably re- 
ceived ; and he inquired concerning the state of his 
host : the nobleman replied : " I have never known ad- 
versity ; every day hath seen me increasing in fortune, 
in honors, in possessions. I have a numerous family 
of sons and daughters, who have never cost me a pang 
of sorrow ; I have a multitude of slaves, to whom my 
word is law ; and I have never suffered either sickness 
or pain." Then Ambrose rose hastily from table, and 
said to his companions, " Arise ! fly from this roof, ere 
it fall upon us ; for the Lord is not here ! " and scarce- 
ly had he left the house when an earthquake shook the 
ground, and swallowed up the palace with all its inhab- 
itants. I have seen this story in a miniature, but can- 
not at this moment refer to it. 

St. Ambrose falls asleep, or into a trance, while cel- 
ebrating mass, and sees in the spirit the obsequies of 
St. Martin of Tours : the sacristan strikes him on the 
shoulder to wake him. Tiiis is the subject of a very 
old mosaic in his church at Milan. 

When St. Ambrose was on his death-bed, Christ vis- 
ited him and comforted him ; Honorat, bishop of Ver- 
celli, was then in attendance on him, and having gone 
to sleep, an angel waked him, saying, "Arise, for he 
departs in this hour " ; and Honorat was just in time 
to administer the sacrament and see him expire. Oth- 
ers who were present beheld him uiscend to heavon, 
borne in the arms of angels. 



Devotional pictures of St. Ambrose alone as patron 
saint do not often occur. In general he wears the 
episcopal pallium with the mitre and crosier as bishop : 
the beehive is sometimes placed at his feet ; but a more 
frequent attribute is the knotted scourge with three 
thongs. The scourge is a received emblem of the cas- 
tigation of sin : in the hand of St. Ambrose it may 
signify the penance inflicted on the Emperor Theodo- 
sius ; or, as others interpret it, the expulsion of the 
Arians from Italy, and the triumph of the Trinitarians. 
It has always this meaning, we may presume, when the 
scourge has tliree knots, or three thongs. I have seen 
figures of St. Ambrose holding two human bones in 
his hand. When this attribute occurs (as in a picture 
by Vivarini, Venice Acad.), it alludes to the discovery 
of the relics of Gervasius and Protasius. 

Among the few representations of St. Ambrose as 
patron saint, the finest beyond all comparison is that 
which adorns his chapel in the Frari at Venice, painted 
conjointly by B. Vivarini and Basaiti (a. d. 1498). 
He is seated on a throne, raised on several steps, at- 
tired in his episcopal robes and mitre, and bearing the 
triple scourge in his hand. He has a short gray beard, 
and looks straight out of the picture with an expres- 
sion of stern power ; — nothing here of the benignity 
and humility of the Christian teacher ! Around his 
throne stands a glorious com])any of saints : on the 
right, St. George in complete armor ; St. John the 
Baptist ; a young saint, bearing a sword and palm, 
with long hair, and the most beautiful expression of 
mild, serene faith, whom I suppose to be St. Theo- 
dore ; St. Sebastian ; and another figure behind, part 
of the liead only seen. On the left, St. Maurice, 
armed ; the three Doctors, St. Gregory, St. Augustine, 
St. Jerome, and two other saints partly seen behind, 
whose personality is doubtful. All these wait round 
St. Ambrose, as guards and counsellors round a sov- 
ereign ; two lovely little angels sit on the lower step 
of the throne hymning his praise. The whole picture 


is wonderful for color, depth, and expression, and 
shows to what a pitch of excellence the Vivarini family- 
had attained in these characteristics of the Venetian 
school, long before it had become a school. 

Most of the single figures of St. Ambrose represent 
him in his most popular character, that of the stern 
adversary of the Arians. I remember (in the Frari 
at Venice) a picture in which St. Ambrose in his epis- 
copal robes is mounted on a white charger, and flour- 
ishing on high his triple scourge. The Arians are 
trampled under his feet, or fly before him. I have 
seen an old print, in which he is represented with a 
short gray beard, stern countenance, and wearing the 
bisliop's mitre: underneath is the inscription " Anti- 
quis ejus imaginibus Medioiani olim depictis ad vivum 
expressa" ; but it seems certain that no authentic por- 
trait of him exists. 

His church at Milan, the Basilica of Sant' Ambro- 
gio Maggiore, one of the oldest and most interesting 
churches in Christendom, was founded by him in 387, 
and dedicated to all the Saints. Though rebuilt in the 
ninth century and restored in the seventeenth, it still 
retains the form of the primitive Clu-istian churches 
(like some of those at Rome and Ravenna), and the 
doors of cypress wood are traditionally regarded as the 
very doors which St. Ambrose closed against the Em- 
peror Theodosius, brought hither from the ancient ca- 
thedral. Within this venerable and solemn old church 
may be seen one of the most extraordinary and best- 
preserved specimens of Medieval Art : it is the golden 
shrine or covering of the high altar, much older than 
the famous pala d' oro at Venice ; and the work, or at 
least the design, of one man : * whereas the pala is the 
work of several diflerent artists at different periods. 
On the front of the altar, which is all of plates of 

* Wolvinus, A. D. 832. " His name seems to indicate that he 
was of Teutonic race, a circumstance which has excited much 
controversy amongst the modem Italian antiquaries." — Mur 
rai/'.« Handbook. 



gold, enamelled and set with precious stones, are rep- 
resented in relief scenes from the life of our Saviour ; 
on the sides, which are of silver-gilt, angels, archangels, 
and medallions of Milanese saints. On the back, also 
of silver-gilt, we have the whole life of St. Ambrose, 
in a series of small compartments, most curious and 
important as a record of costume and manners, as well 
as an example of the state of Art at that time. I have 
never seen any engraving of this monument, but I ex- 
amined it carefully. In the centre stand the Archan- 
gels Michael and Gabriel, in the Byzantine style ; and 
below them, St. Ambrose blesses the donor. Bishop 
Angelbertus, and the goldsmith Wolvinus. Around, 
in twelve compartments, we have the principal inci- 
dents of the life of St. Ambrose, the figures being, 
as nearly as I can recollect, about six inches high. 

1. Bees swarm round his head as he lies in his 
cradle. 2. He is appointed prefect of the Ligurian 
provinces. 3. He is elected Bishop of Milan in 375. 
4. He is baptized. 5. He is ordained. 6. and 7. He 
sleeps, and beholds in a vision the obsequies of St. 
Martin of Tours. 8. He preaches in the cathedral, 
inspired by angels. 9. He heals the sick and lame. 
10. He is visited by Christ. 11. An angel wakes the 
Bishop of Vercelli and sends him to St. Ambrose. 
12. Ambrose dies, and angels l)ear away his soul to 

I was surprised not to find in his church what we 
consider as the principal event of his life, — his mag- 
nanimous resistance to the Emperor Theodosius. In 
fact, the grand scene between Ambrose and Tlieodo- 
sius has never been so popular as it deserves to be : 
considered merely as a subject of painting, it is full of 
splendid picturesque capabilities ; for grouping, color, 
contrast, background, all that could be desired. In 
the great picture by Rubens,* the scene is the porch 
of the church. On the left the emperor, surrounded 
by his guards, stands irresolute, and in a supplicatory 

* Belvedere Gal., Vienna. 



attitude, on the steps ; on the right, and above, St. 
Ambrose is seen, attended by the ministering priests, 
and stretches out his hand to repel the intruder. There 
is a print, after Andrea del Sarto, representing Theo- 
dosius on his knees before the relenting prelate. In 
the Louvre is a small picture, by Subleyras, of the 
reconciliation of Ambrose and Theodosius. In our 
National Gallery is a small and beautiful copy, by 
Vandyck, of the great picture by Eubens. 

As joint patrons of Milan, St. Ambrose and St. 
Carlo Borromeo are sometimes represented together, 
but only in late pictures. 

There is a statue of St. Ambrose, by Falconet,* in 
the act of repelling Theodosius, which is mentioned by 
Diderot, with a commentary so characteristic of the 
French anti-religious feeling of that time, — a feeling 
as narrow and one-sided in its way as the most bigoted 
Puritanism, — that I am tempted to extract it ; only 
premising, that if, after the slaughter at Ismael, Cath- 
erine of Russia had been placed under the ban of 
Christendom, the world would not have been the 
worse for such an exertion of the priestly power. 

" C'est ce fougueux eveque qui osa fermer les pontes de I'^glise 
4. Theodose, et i qui un certain souveraia de par le monde (Fred- 
eric of Prussia) qui dans la guerre passee avoit une si bonne envie 
de faire un tour dans la rue des pretres, et une certaine souveraine 
(Catherine of Russia) qui vient de debarrasser son clerge de toute 
cette richesse inutile qui I'empechoit d'etre respectable, auroient 
fait couper la barbe et les oreilles, en lui disant : ' Apprenez, mon- 
sieur I'abbe, que le temple de votre Dieu est sur mon domaine, et 
que si mon predecesseur vous a accorde par grace les trois arpens 
de terrain iqu'il occupe, je puis les reprendre et vous envoyer por- 
ter vos autels et votre fanatisme ailleurs. Ce lieu-ci la maisoD du 
Pere commun des hommes, bons ou medians, et je veux entrer 
quand il me plaira. Je ne m'accuse point i vous , quand je 
daignerois vous consulter, vous n'en savez pas assez pour me 
conseiller sur ma conduite, et de quel front vous imraiscez-vous 
d'ea juger ? ' Mais le plat empereur ne parla pas ainsi, et 
l'ev6que savoit bien 4 qui il avoit a faire. Le statuaire nous I'a 
montre dans le moment de son Insolent apostrophe." 

* Paris, Invalides. 


In Diderot's criticisms on Art, which are often 
quoted even now, there is in general a far better 
taste than prevailed in his time, and much good 
sense ; but a low tone of sentiment when he had to 
deal -with imaginative or religious Art, and an intol- 
erable coarseness, — " most mischievous foul sin in 
chiding sin." 

St. Augustine. 

St. Austin. Lat. Sanctus Augustinus. Ital. Sant' Agostino. Fr. 
S. Augustin. Aug. 28, A. D. 430. 

St. Augustine, the third of the Doctors of the 
Church, was born at Tagaste, in Numidia, in 354. 
His father was a heathen ; his mother, Monica, a 
Christian. Endowed with splendid talents, a vivid 
imagination, and strong passions, Augustine passed 
his restless youth in dissipated pleasures, in desultory 
studies, changing from one faith to another, dissatisfied 
with himself and unsettled in mind. His mother, 
Monica, wept and prayed for him, and, in the ex- 
tremity of her anguish, repaired to the Bishop of 
Carthage. After listening to her sorrows, he dismissed 
her with these words : " Go in peace ; the son of so 
many tears will not perish ! " Augustine soon after- 
wards went to Rome, where he gained fame and riches 
by his eloquence at the bar ; but he was still unhappy 
and restless, nowhere finding peace either in labor or 
in pleasure. From Rome he went to Milan ; there, 
after listening for some time to the preaching.of Am- 
bi-ose, he was, after many struggles, converted to the 
faith, and was baptized by the Bishop of jNIilan, in 
presence of his mother, Monica. On this occasion 
was composed the hymn called the " Te Deum," still 
in use in our Church ; St. Ambrose and St. Augustine 
reciting the verses alternately as they advanced to the 
altar. Augustine, after some time spent in stady, was 
ordained priest, and then Bishop of Hippo, a small 


town and territory not far from Carthaire. Once in- 
stalled in his bishopric, he ever afterwards refused to 
leave the flock intrusted to his care, or to accept of 
any higher dignity. His life was passed in the prac- 
tice of every virtue : all that he possessed was spent in 
hospitality and charity, and his time was devoted to 
the instruction of his flock, either by preaching or 
writing. In 430, after he had presided over his dio- 
cese for thirty-five years, the city of Hippo was be- 
sieged by the Vandals ; in the midst of tlie liorrors 
that ensued, Augustine refused to leave his people, 
and died during the siege, being then in his seventy- 
sixth year. It is said that his remains were afterwards 
removed from Africa to Pavia, by Luitprand, King of 
the Lombards. His writings in defence of Christianity 
are numerous and celebrated ; and he is regarded as 
the patron saint of theologians and learned men. 

Of his glorious tomb, in the Cathedral of Pavia, I 
can only say that its beauty as a work of art astonished 
me. I had not been prepared for anything so rich, so 
elegant in taste, and so elaborate in invention. It is 
of the finest florid Gothic, worked in white marble, 
scarcely discolored by time. Augustine lies upon a 
bier, and angels of exquisite grace are folding his 
shroud around him. The basso-relievos represent the 
events of his life; the statues of the evangelists, apos- 
tles, and other saints connected with the history of the 
Church, are full of dignity and character. It comprises 
in all 290 figures. This magnificent shrine is attributed 
by Cicognara to the Jacobelli of Venice, and by Vasari 
to the two brothers Agostino and Agnolo of Siena ; 
but he does not speak with certaint;;^ and the date, 1362, 
seems to justify the supposition of Cicognara, the Sie- 
nese brothers being then eighty or ninety years old. 

Single figures of St. Augustine are not common; 
and when grouped with others in devotional pictures, 
it is not easy to distinguish him from other bishops ; 
for his proper attribute, the heart flaming or trans- 
pierced, to express the ardor of his piety or the poig- 


nancy of his repentance, is very seldom introduced: 
but when a bishop is standing with a book in his hand, 
or a pen, accompanied by St. Jerome, and with no par- 
ticular attribute, we may suppose it to be St. Augus- 
tine ; and when the title of one of his famous writings 
is inscribed on the book, it of course fixes the identity 
beyond a doubt. 

1. B. Vivarini. St. Augustine seated on a throne, 
as patron saint, mitred and robed ; alone, stern, and 

2. Dosso Dossi. St. Augustine throned as patron, 
attended by two angels ; he looks like a jovial patri- 

3. F. Pilippo Lippi. St. Augustine writing in his 
chamber ; no emblem, no mitre; yet the personalis s,o 
marked that one could not mistake him either for Am- 
brose or Jerome. { 

4. Andrea del Sarto. St. Augustine as doctor ; be- 
fore him stand St. Dominic and St. Peter Martyr; 
beside him St. Laurence, listening ; in front kneel St. 
Sebastian and Mary Magdalen. § 

5. V. Carpaccio. St. Augustine standing ; a fine, 
stern, majestic figure ; he holds his book and scourge. || 

6. Paris Bordone. The Virgin and Child enthroned ; 
the Virgin places on the head of St. Augustine, who 
kneels before her, the jewelled mitre.TT 

7. Florigerio. St. Augustine, as bishop, and St. 
Monica, veiled, stand on each side of the Madonna.** 

As a series of subjects, the history of St. Augustine 
is not commonly met with ; yet certain events in his 
life are of very frequent occurrence. 

I shall begin with the earliest. 

1. Monica brings her son to school ; the master re- 

* SS. Giovan e Paolo, Venice. f Brera, Milan. 

+ Fl. Gal. 

§ Pitti Pal. This fine picture was painted tor the Agostinl. 

II Brera, Milan. 

T Berlin Gal. ** Acad. Venice. 


ceives him ; the scholars are sitting in a row conning 
their hornbooks. The names of Monica and Angus- 
tine are inscribed in the glories round their heads. 
This is a very curious little oval picture of the early 
part of the fourteenth century.* 

Benozzo Gozzoli has painted the same subject in a 
large fresco in the church of San Geminiano at Yol- 
terra (a. d. 1460). Monica presents her son to the 
schoolmaster, who caresses him ; in the background a 
little boy is being whipped, precisely in the same atti- 
tude in which correction is administered, to this day, in 
some of our schools. 

2. St. Augustine under the fig-tree meditating, with 
the inscription, " Dolores animte salutem parturientes " ; 
and the same subject varied, with the inscription, Tolle, 
lege. He tells us in his Confessions, that while still 
unconverted, and in deep communion with his friend 
Alypius on the subject of the Scriptures, the contest 
within his mind was such that he rushed from the 
presence of his friend and threw himself down beneath 
a fig-tree, pouring forth torrents of repentant tears ; 
and he heard a voice, as it were the voice of a child, 
repeating several times, " Tolle, lege," " Take and 
read " ; and returning to the place where he had left 
his friend, and taking up the sacred volume, he opened 
it at the verse of St. Paul's Epistle to the Eoraans, 
" Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chamberina: 
and wantonness, not in strife and envying ; but put ye 
on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for 
the flesh." Considering that this was the voice of 
God, he took up the religious profession, to the great 
joy of his mother and his friend. 

3. C. Procaccino. The Baptism of St. Augustine 
m the presence of St. ]\Ionica. This is a common 
subject in chapels dedicated to St. Augustine or St. 

4. As the supposed founder of one of the four great 
Jeligious communities, St. Augustine is sometimes rep- 

* Vatican, Christian Museum. t Cremona- 


resented as giving the rules to his Order : or iu the 
act of writing them, while his monks stand around, as 
in a picture by Carletto Cagliari : * both are common 
subjects in the houses of the Augustine friars. The 
habit is black. t 

5. St. Augustine dispensing alms, generally in a 
black habit, and with a bishop's mitre on his head. 

6. St. Augustine, washing the feet of the pilgrims, 
sees Christ descend from above to have his feet washed 
with the rest ; a large picture in the Bologna Academy 
by Desubleo, a painter whose works, with tliis one ex- 
ception, are unknown to me. The saint wears the 
black habit of an Augustine friar, and is attended b}' a 
monk with a napkin in his hand. I found the same 
subject in the Louvre, in a Spanish picture of the sev- 
enteenth century; above is seen a church (like the Pan- 
theon) in a glory, and Christ is supposed to utter the 
words, " Tibi commendo Ecclesiani meam." J 

7. St. Augustine, borne aloft by angels in an ecstatic 
vision, beholds Christ in the opening heavens above, 
St. Monica kneeling below. This fine picture, by Van- 
dyck, is or was in the gallery of Lord Metliuen at 
Corsham : and at Madrid there Is another example, by 
Murillo : St. Augustine kneeling in an ecstasy sees a 
celestial vision ; on one hand the Saviour crucified, on 
the other the Virgin and angels. 

This, however, is not the famous subject called, in 
general, 8. " The Vision of St. Augustine," which rep- 
resents a dream or vision related by himself He tells 
us that, while busied in writing his Discourse on the 
Triiuty, he wandered along the sea-shore lost in medi- 
tation. Suddenly he beheld a child, who, having dug 
a hole in the sand, appeared to be bringing water from 

* Belvedere, A'ienna. 

t II. " Legends of the Monastic Orders." 

j I believe this picture was afterwards in the possession of Mr. 
Dennistoun, of Dennistoun. Mr. Stirling mentions it as a fine 
specimen of Murillo's second style. 


the sea to fill it. Augustine inquired what was the 
object of his task? He replied, that he intended to 
empty into this cavity all the waters of the great deep, 
" Impossible ! " exclaimed Augustine. " Not more im- 
possible," replied the child, " than for thee, Augus- 
tine ! to explain the mystery on which thou art now 

No subject from the history of St. Augustine has 
been so often treated, yet I do not remember any very 
eai-ly example. It was adopted as a favorite theme 
when Art became rather theological than religious, and 
more intent on illustrating the dogmas of churclimen 
than the teaching of Christ. During the sixteenth and 
seventeenth centuries we find it everywhere, and treated 
in every variety of style ; but the motif does not vary, 
and the same fault prevails too generally, of giving us 
a material fact, rather than a spiritual vision or revela- 
tion. Augustine, arrayed in his black habit or his 
episcopal robes, stands on the sea-shore, gazing with an 
astonished air on the Infiint Christ, who pauses, and 
looks up from his task, holding a bowl, a cup, a ladle, 
or a shell in his hand. Tims we have it in Murillo's 
picture, — the most beautiful example I have seen : the 
child is heavenly, but not visionary, " palpable to feel- 
ing as to sense." 

In Garofalo's picture of this subject, now in our Na- 
tional Gallery, Augustine is seated on a rock by the 
margin of the sea, habited in his episcopal robes, and 
with liis books and writing implements near him ; and 
while he gazes on the mysterious child, the Virgin ap- 
pears amid a ciioir of angels above : behind Augustine 
stands St. Catherine, the patron saint of theologians 
and scholars : the little red figure in the background 
represents St. Stephen, whose life and actions are elo- 
quently set forth in the homilies of St. Augustine : the 
introduction of St. Catherine, St. Stephen, and the 
whole court of heaven, gives the picture a visionary 
character. Rubens has painted this subject with all his 
powerful reality ; here Augustine wears the black habit 


of his Order. Vandyck in his large grand picture has 
introduced St. Monica kneeling, thus giving at once the 
devotional or visionary character.* Albert Durer has 
designed and engraved the same subject. The most 
singular treatment is the classical composition of Ra- 
phael, in one of the small chiaro-scuro pictures placed 
significantly under the " Dispute of the Sacrament." 
St. Augustine is in a Roman dress, bare-headed, and 
on horseback ; his horse starts and rears at the sight 
of the miraculous child. 

There is something at once picturesque and mystical 
in this subject, which has rendered it a favorite with 
artists and theologians ; yet tiiere is always, at least in 
every instance I can recollect, something prosaic and 
literal in the treatment which spoils the poetry of the 

9. " St. Augustine and St. Stephen bury Count 
Orgaz," — the masterpiece of Domenico el Greco, once 
in the Cathedral of Toledo, now in the Madrid Gal- 
lery. This Conde de Orgaz, as Mr. Ford tells us in 
his Handbook, lived in 1.312, and had repaired a church 
in his lifetime, and therefore St. Stephen and St. Augus- 
tine came down from heaven to lay him in his tomb, 
in presence of Christ, the Virgin, and all the court of 
heaven. " The black and gold armor of the dead 
Count is equal to Titian ; the red brocades and copes 
of the saints are admirable ; less good are the Virgin 
and celestial groups." I have before mentioned the 
reason why St. Augustine and St. Stephen are often 
represented in companionship. 

St. Monica is often introduced into pictures of her 
son, where she has, of course, the secondary place ; 
her dress is usually a black robe, and a veil or coif, 
white or gray, resembling that of a nun or a widow. 
I have met with but one picture where she is supreme ; 
it is in the Carmine at Florence. St. Monica is seated 
on a throne and attended by twelve holy women or 
female saints, six on each side. The very dark situa- 

* Once in Lord Mathuen's Gallery at Corsham. 



rion of this picture prevented me from distingHishing 
individually the saints around her, but Monica herself 
as well as the other fig-ures have tliat c/randiose air 
which belongs to the painter, — Filippo Lippi. 

I saw in the atelier of the painter Ary Scheffer, in 
1845, an admirable picture of St. Augustine and his 
mother Monica. The two figures, not quite full-length, 
are seated ; she holds his hand in both hers, looking up 
to heaven with an expression of enthusiastic, undoubt- 
ing faith ; — " the son of so many tears cannot be cast 
away ! " He also is looking up with an ardent, eager, 
but anxious, doubtful expression, which seems to say, 
" Help thou my unbelief ! " For profound and truth- 
ful feeling and significance, I know few things in the 
compass of modern Ait that can be compared to this 

St. Geegokt. 

Lat. Sanctus Gregorius Magnus. Ital. San Qregorio Magno or 
Papa. Fr. St. Gregoire. Ger. Der Heilige Gregor. March 
12, A. D. 604. 

The fourth Doctor of the Latin Church, St. Greg- 
ory, styled, and not without reason, Gregory the Great, 
was one of those extraordinary men whose influence is 
not only felt in their own time, but through long suc- 
ceeding ages. The events of his troubled and splendid 
pontificate belong to history ; and I shall merely throw 
together here such particulars of his life and character 
as may serve to render the multiplied representations 
of him both intelligible and interesting. He was born 
at Rome in the year 540. His father, Gordian, was 
of senatorial rank : his mother, Sylvia, who, in the 
history of St. Gregory, is almost as important as St. 
Monica in the story of St. Augustine, was a woman of 
rare endowments, and, during his childish years, the 

* It was in the possession of Her Majesty the Ex-Queeu of the 
French, who paid for it 25,000f. 



watchful instructress of her son. It is recorded- that 
when he was still an infant she was favored b}' a vision 
of St. Antony, in which he promised to her son the 
supreme dignity of the tiara. Gregory,. however, com- 
menced his career in life as a law3'er, and exercised 
during twelve years the office of prjetor or chief magis- 
trate of his native city ; yet, wliile apparently engrossed 
by secular affairs, he became deeply imbued with the 
religious enthusiasm whicli was characteristic of his 
time and hereditary in his family. Immediately on 
the death of his father he devoted all the wealth he 
had inherited to pious and charitable purposes, con- 
verted his paternal home on the Celian Hill into a 
monastery and liospital for the poor, which he dedicated 
to St. Andrew : then, retiring to a little cell within it, 
he took tlie habit of the Benedictine Order, and gave 
up all his time to study and preparation for the duties 
to which he had devoted himself On the occasion of 
a terrific plague which almost depojjulated Rome, he 
fearlessly undertook the care of the poor and sick. 
Pope Pelagius having died at this time, the people with 
one voice called upon Gregory to succeed iiim : but he 
shrank from the high office, and wrote to the Emperor 
Maurice, entreating him not to ratify the choice of the 
people. The emperor sent an edict confirming his 
election, and thereupon Gregory fled from Rome, and 
hid himself in a cave. Those wlio went in search of 
him were directed to the place of his concealment by a 
celestial light, and the fugitive was discovered and 
brought back to Rome. 

No sooner had he assumed the tiara, thus forced 
upon him against his will, than he showed himself in 
all respects worthy of his elevation. While he asserted 
the dignity of his station, he was distinguislied by his 
personal humility : he was the first pope who took the 
title of " Servant of the Servants of God " ; he abol- 
ished slavery throughout Christendom on religious 
grounds ; though enthusiastic in making converts, he 
set himself against persecution ; and when the Jews of 


Sardinia appealed to him, he commanded tlmt the syn- 
agogues which had been taken from them, and con- 
verted into churches, should be restored. He was the 
first who sent missionaries to preacli the Gospel in 
England, roused to pity by the sight of some British 
captives exposed for sale in the market at Rome. 
Shocked at the idea of an eternity of vengeance and 
torment, if he xiid not originate the belief in purgatory, 
he was at least the first who preached it publicly, and 
made it an article of faith. In his hatred of war, of 
persecution, of slavery, he stepped not only in advance 
of his own time, but of ours. He instituted the celi- 
bacy of the clergy, one of the boldest strokes of eccle- 
siastical power ; he reformed the services of the Church ; 
defined the model of the Roman liturgy, such as it has 
ever since remained, — the offices of the priests, the 
variety and cliango of tiie sacerdotal garments ; he ar- 
ranged the music of the chants, and he himself trained 
the choristers. " Experience," says Gibbon, " had 
shown him the efficacy of tliese solemn and pompous 
rites to soothe the distress, to confirm the faith, to mit- 
igate the fierceness, and to dispel the dark enthusiasm 
of the vulgar ; and he readily forgave their tendency to 
promote the reign of priesthood and superstition." If, 
at a period when credulity and ignorance were univer- 
sal, he showed himself in some instances credulous and 
ignorant, it seems hardly a reproach to one in other 
respects so good and so great. 

His charity was boundless, and his vigilance inde- 
fatigable : he considered himself responsible for every 
sheep of the flock intrusted to him ; and when a beg- 
gar died of hunger in the streets of Rome, he laid 
himself under a sentence of penance and excommuni- 
cation, and interdicted himself for several days from 
ihe exercise of his sacerdotal functions. 

Such was St. Gregory the Great, the last Pope who 
was canonized : celestial honors and worldlv tides have 
often been worse — seldom so well — bestowed. 

During the last two years of his life, his health, 


early impaired by fasts and vigils, failed entirely, and 
he was unable to rise from his couch. He died in 604, 
in the fourteenth year of his pontificate. They still 
preserve, in the church of the Lateran at Eome, his 
bed, and the little scourge with which he was wont to 
keep the choristers in order. 

The monastery of St. Andrew, which he founded on 
the Celian Hill, is now the ciiurch of San Gregorio. 
To stand on the summit of the majestic flight of steps 
which leads to the portal, and look across to the ruined 
palace of the Caesars, makes the mind giddy with 
the rush of thoughts. There, before us, the Palatine 
Hill, — Pagan Eome in dust : here, the little cell, a 
few feet square, where slept in sackcloth the man who 
gave the last blow to the power of the Cssars, and 
first set his foot as sovereign on the cradle and capital 
of their greatness. 

St. Gregory was in person tall and corpulent, and 
of a dai-k complexion, M-ith black hair, and very little 
beard. He speaks in one of his epistles of his large 
size, contrasted with his weakness and painful infirmi- 
ties. He presented to the monastery of St. Andrew 
his own portrait, and those of his father, and his 
mother St. Sylvia : they were still in existence three 
hundred years after his death, and the portrait of 
Gregory probably furnished that particular type of 
physiognomy which we trace in all the best represen- 
tations of him, in which he appears of a tall, large, 
and dignified person, with a broad, full face, black hair 
and eyebrows, and little or no beard. 

As he was, next to St. Jerome, the most popular of 
the Pour Doctors, single figures of him abound. They 
are variously treated : in general, he bears the tiara as 
Pope, and the crosier with the double cross, in common 
with other Papal saints ; but his peculiar attribute is 
the dove, which in the old pictures is always close to 
his ear. He is often seated on a throne, in the pon- 
tifical robes, wearing the tiara : one hand raised in 
benediction ; in the other a book, which represents 



his homilies, and other famous works attributed to 
him : the dove either rests on his shoulder, or is 
hovering over his head. He is thus represented in 
the fine statue, designed, as it is said, by M. Angelo, 
and executed by Cordieri, in the chapel of St. Barbara, 
in San Gregorio, Rome ; and in the picture over the 
altar-piece of his chapel, to the right of the high altar. 
In the Salviati Chapel on the left, is the " St. Gregory 
in prayer," by Annibal Caracci. He is seen in front 
bareheaded, but arrayed in the pontifical habit, kneel- 
ing on a cushion, his hands outspread and uplifted ; 
the dove descends from on high ; the tiara is at his 
feet, and eight angels hover around : — a grand, finely 
colored, but, in sentiment, rather cold and mannered 

By Guercino, St. Gregory seated on a throne, look- 
ing upwards, his hand on an open book, in act to turn 
the leaves ; the dove hovers at his shoulder : to the 
left stands St. Francis Xavier ; on the right, and more 
in front, St. Ignatius Loyola. Behind St. Gregory is 
an angel playing on the viol, in allusion to his love 
and patronage of sacred music ; in front an infant 
angel holds the tiara. The type usually adopted in 
figures of St. Gregory is here exaggerated into coarse- 
ness, and the picture altogether appears to me more 
remarkable for Guercino's fiiults than ibr his beauties. t 

Several of the legends connected with the history of 
St. Gregory are of singular interest and beauty, and 
have afforded a number of picturesque themes for Art : 
they appear to have arisen out of his exceeding popu- 
larity. The}' are all expressive of the veneration in 
which he was held by the people ; of the deep impres- 
sion left on their minds by his eloquence, his sanctity, 
his charity ; and of the authority imputed to his nu- 
merous writings, which were commonly said to have 
been dictated by the Holy Spirit. 

* There is a duplicate in the Bridgewater Gallery. 
( Sutherland Gal. 


1. John the deacon, his secretary, who has left a full 
account of his life, declares that he beheld the Holy 
Ghost in the form of a dove perched upon his shoulder 
while he was writing or dictating his famous homilies. 
This vision, or rather figure of speech, has been inter- 
preted as a fact by the early painters. Thus, in a 
quaint old picture in the Bologna Gallery, we have 
St. Gregory seated on a throne writing, the celestial 
dove at his ear. A little behind is seen John the 
deacon, drawing aside a curtain, and looking into the 
room at his patron with an expression of the most 
naive astonishment. 

2. The Archangel Michael, on the cessation of the 
pestilence, sheatlies his sword on the summit of the 
Mole of Hadrian. I have never seen even a tolerable 
picture of this magnificent subject. There is a picture 
in the Vatican, in which Gregory and a procession of 
priests are singing litanies, and in the distance a little 
Mola di Adriano, witli a little angel on the summit ; — 
curious, but without merit of any kind. 

3. The Supper of St. Gregory. It is related that 
when Gregory was only a monk, in the Monastery of 
St. Andrew, a beggar presented liimself at the gate, 
and requested alms : being relieved, lie came again 
and again, and at length nothing was left for the 
cliaritable saint to bestow, but the silver porringer in 
which his mother, Sylvia, had sent liim a potage ; and 
he commanded that this should be given to the mendi- 
cant. It was his custom, when he became Pope, to 
entertain every evening at his own table twelve poor 
men, in remembrance of the number of our Lord's 
apostles. One night, as lie sat at supper with his 
guests, he saw, to his surprise, not twelve, but thir- 
teen seated at his table. And he called to his steward, 
and said to him, " Did I not command thee to invite 
twelve ■? and behold, there are thirteen ! " And the 
steward told them over, and replied, " Holy Father, 
there are surely twelve only ! " and Gregory held his 
peace ; and after the meal, he called forth the unbidden 



guest, and asked him, " Who art thou ? " And he re- 
plied, " I am the poor man whom thou didst formerly 
relieve ; but my name is the Wonderful, and through 
me thou shalt obtain whatever thou shalt ask of God." 
Then Gregory knew that he had entertained an angel 
(or, according to another version of the story, our 
Lord himself). This legend has been a frequent 
subject in painting, under the title of " The Supper 
of St. Gregory." In the fresco in his church at Rome, 
it is a winged angel wlio appears at the supper-table. 
In the fresco of Paul Veronese, one of his famous 
banquet-scenes, the stranger seated at the table is the 
Saviour habited as a pilgrim.* In the picture painted 
by Vasari, his masterpiece, now in the Bologna Gal- 
lery, he has introduced a great number of figures and 
portraits of distinguished personages of his own time, 
St. Gregory being represented under the likeness of 
Clement VII. The unbidden guest, or angel, bears 
the features of the Saviour. 

This is one of many beautiful mythic legends, 
founded on the words of St. Paul in which he so 
strongly recommends hospitality as one of the vir- 
tues : " Be not forgetful to entertain strangers : for 
thereby some have entertained angels unawares." (Heb. 
xiii. 2.) Or, as Massinger has rendered the apostolic 
precept, — 

" Learn all, 
By this example, to look on the poor 
With gentle eyes, for in such habits often 
Angels desire an alms." 

4. The Mass of St. Gregory. On a certain occasion 
when St. Gregory was officiating at the mass, one who 
was near him doubted the real presence ; thereupon, at 
the prayer of the saint, a vision is suddenly revealed 
of the crucified Saviour himself, who descends upon 
the altar surrounded by the instruments of his passion. 
This legend has been a popular subject of painting 
from tlie beginning of the fifteenth century, and is 

* Vlcenza. S. Maria del Monte. 


called " The Mass of St. Gregory." I have met 
with it in every variety of treatment and grouping ; 
but, however treated, it is not a pleasiug. subject. St. 
Gregory is seen ofiSeiating at the altar, surrounded by 
his attendant clergy. Sometimes several saints are in- 
troduced in a poetical manner, as witnesses of the mir- 
acle : as in an old picture I saw in the gallery of Lord 
Northwick ; — the crucified Saviour descends from the 
cross, and stands on the altar, or is upborne in the air 
by angels ; while all the incidental circumstances and 
instruments of the Passion, — not merely the crown 
of thorns, the spear, the nails, but the kiss of Judas, 
the soldiers' dice, the cock that crew to Peter, — are 
seen floating in the air. As a specimen of the utmost 
naivete in this representation may be mentioned Albert 
Diirer's woodcut. 

The least offensive and most elegant in treatment is 
the marble bas-relief in front of the altar in the Chapel 
of St. Gregory at Rome. 

5. The miracle of the Brandeum. The Empress 
Constantia sent to St. Gregory requesting some of the 
relics of St. Peter and St. Paul. He excused himself, 
saying that he dared not disturb their sacred remains 
for such a purpose, but he sent her part of a conse- 
crated cloth (Brandeum) which had enfolded the body 
of St. John the Evangelist. The empress rejected this 
gift with contempt : whereupon Gregory, to show that 
such things are hallowed not so much in themselves as 
by the faith of believers, laid the Brandeum on the 
altar, and after praying he took up a knife and pierced 
it, and blood flowed as from a living body. This inci- 
dent, called the " miracle dei Brandei," has also been 
painted. Andrea Sacchi has represented it in a grand 
picture now in the Vatican ; the mosaic copy is over 
the altar of St. Gregory in St. Peter's. Gregory holds 
up to view the bleeding cloth, and the expression of 
astonishment and conviction in the countenances of th« 
assistants is very fine. 

ST. GREGORY. 335, 

6. St. Grefforv releases tlie soul of the Emperor Tra- 
jan. In a little picture in the Bolofrna Academy, he 
is seen praying before a tomb, on which is inscribed 
Trajano Impkrador; beneath are two angels raising 
the soul of Trajan out of the flames. Such is the 
usual treatment of this curious and poetical legend, 
which is thus related in the Legenda Aurea. " It 
happened on a time, as Trajan was hastening to battle 
at the head of his legions, that a poor widow flung 
herself in his path, and cried aloud for justice, and the 
. emperor stayed to listen to her ; and she demanded 
vengeance for the innocent blood of her son, killed by 
the son of the emperor. Trajan promised to do her 
justice when he returned from his expedition. ' But, 
Sire,' answered the widow, 'should you be killed in 
battle, who then will do me justice ? ' ' My successor,' 
replied Trajan. And she said, ' What will it signify 
to you, great Emperor, that any other than yourself 
should do mo justice ? Is it not better that you should 
do this good action yourself than leave another to do 
it ? ' And Trajan alighted, and having examined into 
the affair, he gave up his own son to her in place of 
him she had lost, and bestowed on her likewise a rich 
dowry. Now, it came to pass that as Gregory was one 
day meditating in his daily walk, this action of the 
Emperor Trajan came into his mind, and he wept 
bitterly to think that a man so just should be con- 
demned as a heathen to eternal punishment. And en- 
tering into a church he prayed most fervently that the 
soul of the good emperor might be released from tor- 
ment. And a voice said to him, ' I have granted thy 
prayer, and I have spared the soul of Trajan for thy 
sake ; but because thou hast supplicated for one whom 
the justice of God had already condemned, thou shalt 
choose one of two things : either thou shalt endure for 
two days the fires of purgatory, or thou shalt be sick 
And infirm for the remainder of thy life.' Gregory 
chose the latter, which sufficiently accounts for the 
grievous pains and infirmities to which this great 


and good man was subjected, even to the day of his 

This story of Trajan was extremely popular in the 
middle ages : it is illustrative of the character of Greg- 
ory, and the feeling which gave rise to his doctrine of 
purgatory. Dante twice alludes to it ; he describes 
it as one of the subjects sculptured on the walls of 
Purgatory, and takes occasion to relate the whole 
Btory : — 

" There was storied on the rock 
Th' exalted glory of the Koman prmce, 
Whose mighty worth moved Gregory to earn 
His mighty conquest, — Trajan the Emperor. 
A widow at his bridle stood attired 
In tears and mourning. Round about them trooped 
Full throng of knights : and overhead in gold 
The eagles floated, struggling with the wind. 
The wretch appeared amid all these to say : 
'Grant vengeance, Sire ! for, woe beshrew this heart, 
My son is murdered ! ' He, replying, seemed : 
' AA'ait now till I return.' And she, as one 
Made hasty by her grief: '0 Sire, if thou 
Dost not return V — ' Where I am, who then is, 
May right thee.' — ' What to thee is others' good, 
If thou neglect thy own ?' — ' Now comfort thee,' 
At length he answers. ' It beseemeth well 
My duty be performed, ere I move hence. 
So justice wills ; and pity bids me stay.' " 

Gary's Dante, Purg. x. 

It was through the efficacy of St. Gregory's inter- 
cession that Dante afterwards finds Trajan in Paradise, 
seated between King David and King Hezekiah. 
i^Par. XX.) 

As a subject of painting, the story of Trajan was 
sometimes selected as an appropriate ornament for a 
hall of justice. We find it sculptured on one of the 
capitals of the pillars of the Ducal Palace at Venice : 
there is the figure of the widow kneeling, somewhat 
stiff, but very simple and expressive, and over it, in 
rude ancient letters, — " Trajann Imperador, che die 
■(ustizia a la Vedova." In the Town Hall of Ceneda, 



near Belluna, ai-e the three Judgments (/ tre Giudizi), 
painted by Pompeo Amalteo : the Judgment of Solo- 
mon, the Judgment of Daniel, and the Judgment of 
Trajan. It is painted in tlie Town Hall of Brescia by 
Giulio Cauipi, one of a series of eight righteous judg- 

I found the same subject in the church of St. 
Thomas of Canterbury at Verona. " The son of the 
Emperor Trajan tram])ling over the son of the widow," 
is a most curious composition by Hans Schaufelein.* 

7. There was a monk, who, in defiance of his vow 
of poverty, secreted in his cell three pieces of gold. 
Gregory, on learning this, e.Kcommunicated him, and 
shortly afterwards the monk died. When Gregory heard 
that the monk had perished in his sin, without receiving 
absolution, he was filled with grief and horror; and 
he wrote upon a parchment a prayer and a form of 
absolution, and gave it to one of his deacons, desiring 
him to go to the grave of the deceased and read it 
there : on the following night the monk appeared in a 
vision, and revealed to him his release from torment. 

This story is represented in the beautiful bas-relief, 
in white marble, in front of the altar of his chapel ; it is 
the last compartment on the right. The obvious 
intention of this wild legend is to give effect to the doc- 
trine of purgatory, and the efficacy of prayers for the 

St. Gregory's merciful doctrine of purgatory also 
suggested those pictures so often found in chapels dedi- 
cated to the service of the dead, in which he is repre- 
sented in the attitude of supplication, while on one side, 
or in the back"Tound, anjrels are raisinir the tormented 
souls out of the flames. 

In ecclesiastical decoration I have seen the two 
popes, St. Gelasius, who reformed the calendar in 494, 
and St. Celestinus, who arranged the discipline of the 
monastic orders, added to the series of beatified Doctors 
of the Church. 

" Bartsch, Le Pet-itre Gratcur, vii. 264. 



The four Greek Fathers are St. John Chrysostom, St. 
Basil the Great, St. Athanasius, and St. Gregory 
Nazianzen. To these, in Greek pictures, a fifth is 
generally added, St. Cyril of Alexandria. 

From the time of the schism between the Eastern 
and Western churches, these venerable personages, who 
once exercised such an influence over all Christendom, 
who preceded the Latin Fathers, and were in fact their 
teachers, have been almost banished from tlie religious 
representations of the west of Europe. When they are 
introduced collectively as a part of the decoration of an 
ecclesiastical editice, we may conclude in general that 
the work is Byzantine and executed under the influence 
of Greek artists. 

A signal example is the centi'al dome of the bap- 
tistery of St. Mark's at Venice, executed by Greek 
artists of the 12th and 13th centuries. In the four 
spandrils of the vault are the Greek Fathers seated, 
writing (if I w-ell remember), and in the purest Byzan- 
tine style of art. They occupy the same places here 
that we find usually occupied by the Latin Doctors in 
church decoration : each has his name inscribed in 
Greek characters. We have exactly the same repre- 
sentation in the Cathedral of Monrcale at Palermo, 
The Greek Fathers have no attributes to distinguish 
them, and the general custom in Byzantine Art of 
inscribing the names over each figure renders this 
unnecessary : in general, each holds a book, or, in 
some instances, a scroll, which represents his writings ; 
while the right hand is rai.sed in benediction, in the 
Greek manner, the first and second finger extended, 
and the thumb and third finger forming a cross. 
According to the formula pul)lished by M. Didron, 
each of the Greek Fathers bears on a scroll the first 
words of some remarkable passage from his works: 


thus, St. Jolm Chrysostom has " God, our God, who 
Iiatli given us for food the bread of life," &c. : St. 
Basil, " None of those who are in the bondage of fleslily 
desires are worthy," &c. : St. Athanasius, " Often, and 
anew, do we flee to thee, God," &c. : St. Gregory 
jSTazianzen, " God, the holy among the holies, the 
thrice holy," &c. : and St. Cyril, " Above all, a Virgia 
without sin or blemish," &c. 

The Greek bishops do not wear mitres ; conse- 
quently, when in the Italian or German pictures St. 
Basil or any of his companions wear the mitre, it is a 
mistake arising from the ignorance of the artist. 

The Fathers of the Greek Church have been repre- 
sented by Domenichino at Grotta Ferrata, placed over 
the cornice, and under the evangelists, their proper 
place : they are majestic figures, with fine heads, and 
correctly draped according to the Greek ecclesiastical 
costume. They are placed here with peculiar propri- 
ety, because the convent originally belonged to the 
Greek order of St. Basil, and the founder, St. Nilus, was 
a Greek.* 

As separate devotional and historical representations 
of these Fathers do sometimes, though rarely, occur, I 
shall say a few words of them individually. 

St. John Chrtsostoji. 

hat. Sanctus Johannes Chrysostom. Ital. San Giovanni Crisos- 
t jmo, San Giovanni Bocca d' Oro. Fr. St. Jean Chrysostome. 
Died Sept. 14, A. D. 407. His festival is celebrated by the 
Greeks on the loth of November, and by the Latin Church 
on the 27th of January. 

St. Joiix, called Chrysostom, or of thk Goldex 
AlouTU, because of his extraordinary eloquence, was 

* For an account of St. Nilus, and the foundation of Grotta 
Ferrata, see the " Legends of Jlonastic Orders." 


born at Antioch in 344. His pai-cnts were illustriouSj 
and the career opened to him Avas of arts and arms; 
hut from his infoncy the bent of his mind was peculiar. 
Ho lost his father when young ; his mother Arthusia, 
still in the prime of lier life, remained a widow for his 
sake, and superintended his education with cai'e and 
intelligence. The remark of Sir James Mackintosh, 
that " all distinguished men have had able mothers," 
appears especially true of the great churchmen and 
poets. The mother of St. John Chrysostom ranks 
with the Monicas and Sylvias, already described. 

John, at the age of twenty, was already a renowned 
pleader at the bar. At the age of twenty-six, the dis- 
position to self-abnegation and the passion for solitude, 
which had distinguished liim from boyhood, became 
so strong, that he wished to retire altogether from the 
world ; his legal studies, his legal honors, had become 
hateful to liim : he would turn hermit. For a time his 
mother's tears and prayers restrained him. He has 
himself recorded the jnithetic remonstrance in which she 
reminded him of all she had done and suttcrcd in her 
state of widowhood for liis sake, and besought him not 
to leave her. For the present he yielded : but two years 
later he fled from society, and passed five or six years 
iu the wilderness near Antioch, devoting himself solely 
to the study of the Scriptures, to penance and prayer ; 
feeding on the wild vcgctal)les, and leading a life of 
such rigorous abstinence that his health sank under it, 
and he was obliged to return to Antioch. 

All this time he was not even an ordained priest ; 
but shortly after he had emerged from the desert, 
Flavian, bishop of Antioch, ordained him, and ap- 
pointed him preacher. At the moment of his con- 
secration, according to the tradition, a white dove de- 
scended on his head, which was regarded as the sign of 
immediate inspiration. He then entered on his true 
vocation as a Christian orator, the greatest next to 
Paul. On one occasion, when the people of Antioch 
had offended the Emperor Theodosius, and were 


threatened with a punishment like that jvhich had 
fallen on Thessalonifa, the eloquence of St. John 
Chi-ysostom saved tliein : he was so adored by the peo- 
ple, that when he was appointed patriarch of Constan- 
tinople, it was necessary to kidnap him, and carry him 
off from Antioch by a force of armed soldiers, before 
the citizens had time to interfere. 

From the moment he entered on his high office at 
Constantinople, he became the model of a Christian 
bishop. Humble, self-denying, . sleeping on a bare 
plank, content with a little bread and pulse, he enter- 
tained with hospitality the poor and strangers : inde- 
fatigable as a preacher, he used his great gift of elo- 
quence to convert his hearers to what he believed to be 
the truth : he united the enthusiasm and the imagina- 
tion of the poet, the elegant taste of the scholar, the 
logic of the pleader, with the inspired earnestness of 
one who had authority from above. He was, like St. 
Jerome, remarkable for his influence over women ; 
and his correspondence with one of his female converts 
and friends, Olympias, is considered one of the finest 
of his works remaining to us : but, inexorable in his 
denunciations of vine, without regard to sex or station, 
he thundered against the irregularities of the monks, 
the luxury and profligacy of the Empress Eudosia, and 
the servility of her flatterers, and brought down upon 
himself the vengeance of that haughty woman, \nt\\ 
whom the rest of his life was one long contest. He 
was banished : the voice of the people obliged the Em- 
peror to recall him. Persisting in the resolute defence 
of his church privileges, and his animadversions on the 
court and the clergy, he was again banished ; and, on his 
way to his distant place of exile, sank under fatigue 
and the cruel treatment of his guards, who exposed 
him, bareheaded and barefooted, to the burning sun 
of noon : and thus he perished, in the tenth year of his 
bishopric, and the sixty-third of his age. Gibl)on adds, 
that, " At the pious solicitation of the clergy and peo- 
()le of Constantinople, his relics, thirty years after his 


death, were transported from their obscure sepulchre tc 
the royal city. The Emperor Thcodosius advanced to 
receive them as far as Chalcedon, and, falling prostrate 
on the coffin, implored, in the name of his guilty 
parents, Arcadius and Eudosia, the forgiveness of the 
injured saint." 

It is owing, I suppose, to the intercourse of Venice 
with the East, that one of her beautiful churches is 
dedicated to San Gian Grisostomo, as they call him 
there, in accents as soft and sonorous as his own Greek. 
Over the high altar is the grandest devotional picture 
in which I have seen this saint figure as a chief person- 
age. It is the masterpiece of Sebastian del Piombo,* 
and represents St. John Chrysostom throned and in the 
act of writing in a great book; behind him, St. Paul. 
In front, to the right, stands St. John the Baptist, and 
behind him St. George, as patron of Venice ; to the 
left Mary Magdalene, with a beautiful Venetian face, 
behind her St. Catherine, patroness of Venice : close 
to St. J. Chrysostom stands St. Lucia holding her 
lamp ; she is here the type of celestial light or wis- 
dom.t This picture was for a long time attributed to 
Giorgione. There was also a very fine majestic figure 
of this saint by Rubens, in the collection of M. Schamp : 
he is in the habit of a Greek bishop ; in one hand he 
holds the sacramental cup, and the left hand rests on 
the Gospel : the celestial dove hovers near him, and 
two angels are in attendance. 

I cannot quit the history of St. John Chrysostom 
without alluding to a subject well known to collectors 
and amateurs, and popularly called " La Penitence de 
St. Jean Chrysostome." It represents a woman un- 
draped, seated in a cave, or wilderness, Avith an infant 
in her arms ; or lying on the ground with a new-born 

* According to Sanaovino, begun by Qiorgione and finished by 

t Dante, Inf. c. 11. 


fnfant beside her; in the distance is seen a man with a 
glory round liis head, meagre, naked, bearded, crawling 
on his hands and knees in the most abject attitude ; 
beneath, or at the top, is inscribed S. Johanes Crisos- 


Tor a long time this subject perplexed me exceed- 
ingly, as I was quite unable to trace it in any of the 
biographies of Chrysostom, ancient or modern : the 
kindness of a friend, learned in all the byways as well 
as the highways of Italian literature, at length assisted 
me to an explanation. 

The bitter enmity excited against St. John Chrysos- 
tom in his lifetime, and the furious vituperations of his 
adversary, Theophilus of Alexandria, who denounced 
him as one stained by every vice, " hostem hiunanitatis, 
sacrllegoruni principem, immundiiin dmmonem," as a wretch 
who had absolutely delivered up his soul to Satan, 
were apparently disseminated by the monks. Jerome 
translated the abusive attack of Theophilus into Latin; 
and long after the slanders against Chrysostom had 
been silenced in the East, they survived in the West. 
To this may be added the slaughter of the Egyptian 
monks by the friends of Chrysostom in the streets of 
Constantinople ; which, I suppose, was also retained in 
the traditions, and mi.xed up with the monkish fictions. 
It seems to have been forgotten who John Chrysostom 
really was ; his name only survived in the popular bal- 
lads and legends as an epitome of every horrible crime; 
and to account for his being, notwithstanding all this, 
a saint, was a difficulty which in the old legend is sur- 
mounted after a very original, and, I must needs add, 
a very audacious fashion. " I have," writes my friend, 
" three editions of this legend in Italian, with the title 
La Historia di San Giovanni Bocc.adoro. It is in ottava 
rima thirty-six stanzas in all, occupying two leaves of 
ietter-press. It was originally composed in the fifteenth 
century, and reprinted again and again, like the liallads 
and tales hawked by itinerant ballad-mongers, from that 
day to this, and as well known to the lower orders as 


• Jack the Giant-killer ' here. I will give you the stor}' 
as succinctly and as pro))evly as I can. A gentlcniau 
of the high roads, named Schitano, confesses his rob- 
heries and murders to a certain Frate, who ahsolves 
him, upon a solemn promise, not to do three things, — 

' Che tu non facci falso sacramento, 
Ne Imuiicidio, ne adulterare.' 

Schitano thereupon takes possession of a cave, and 
turns Romito (Hermit) in the wilderness. A neighbor- 
ing king takes his daughter out huiuing with him ; a 
wliite deer starts across their path ; the king dashes 
away in pursuit ten miles or more, forgetting his daugh- 
ter ; night comes on ; the princess, left alone in the 
forest, wanders till she sees a light, and knocks for ad- 
mittance at the cave of Schitano. He liuuies at first 
that it must be the 'Demonio,' but at length he admits 
her after long hesitation, and turns her horse out to 
graze. Her beauty tempts iiim to break one of his 
vows; the fear of discovery induces him to violate an- 
other by murdering her, and throwing her body into a 
cistern. The horse, however, is seen by one of the 
cavaliers of the court, who knocks, and incinircs if he 
has seen a certain ' donzella ' that way. The liermit 
swears that he has not beheld a Christian face for three 
years, thus breaking his third vow ; but, reflecting on 
this threefold sin with horror, he imj)Oses on himself a 
most severe penance (' un aspra penitenza '), to wit : — 

' Di stare sette anni nell aspro rtiserto. 
Pane noQ niaiigero nu bero vino, 
Ne mai risguardero il ciel scoperto, 
Non parlero Ilebraico ne Latino, 
Per fin clie quel eh' io dico non k certo, 
Che un fantin di set di porpa favella, 
" Perdonato t' ha Dio ; va alia tua cella." ' 

" That is, he swears that for seven years he will nei- 
ther egt bread nor drink wine, nor look up in the face of 
heaven, nor speak either Hebrew or Latin, until it shall 
come to pass that an infant of seven days' old shall 


open its mouth and sav, ' Heaven hath pardoned thee, 
— go in peace.' So, stripping otf his clothes, he crawls 
on hands and knees like the beasts of the tield, eating 
grass and drinking water. 

" i!\or did his resolution fail him — he persists in 
this ' aspra penitenza ' for seven years, — 

'Sette anni e sette giorni nel diserto ; 
Come le bestie audava lui carpone, 
E mai non risguardo il ciel scoperto, 
Peloso egli era a modo d' un moutoue ; 
Spine e fango il suo letto era per certo, 
Del suo peccato havea contrizione ; 
E ognl cosa facea con gran fervore, 
Per purgar il suo fallo e grand' errore.' 

In the mean time it came into the king's head to draw 
the covers where the hermit was leading this life. The 
dogs of course found, but neither they nor the king 
could make anything of this new species of animal, 
' che pareva un orso.' So they took him home in a 
chain and deposited him in their zoological collection, 
where he refused meat and bread, and persisted in 
grazing. On New- Year's day the queen gives birth to 
a son, who, on the seventh day after he is born, says 
distinctly to the hermit, — 

'Torna alia tua cella, 
Che Dio t' ha perdonato il tuo peccato, 
Levatl su, Komito ! era favella ! ' 

But the hermit docs not speak as commanded ; he 
makes signs that he will write. The king orders the 
inkstand to be brought, but there is no ink in it : so 
Scliitano at once earns his surname of Boccadoro (Chry- 
sostom) by a simple expedient : he puts the pen to his 
mouth, wets it with his saliva, and writes iu letters of 
gold, — 

' Onde la penna in bocca si metteva, 
E a scrivere comincii senza diiiioro, 
Col sputo, lettere che parevau d' oro ! ' 

"After seven years and seven days, he opens his 


golden mouth in speech, and confesses his foul crimes 
to the king ; cavaliers are despatched in search of tho 
body of the princess ; as they approacii tlie cavern they 
hear celestial music, and in the end they bring the don- 
zella out of the cistern alive and well, and very sorry 
to leave the blessed Virgin and the angels, with whom 
she had been passing her time most agreeably : she is 
restored to her parents with universal ycsta e al/egresza, 
and she announces to the hermit that he is pardoned 
and may return to his cell, which he does forthwith, 
and ends in leading the life of a saint, and being beati- 
fied. The ' discreti auditori ' are invited to take ex- 
ample, — 

' Da questo Santo pien di leggiatlria 
Che Idilio sempre perdoua a' peccatori,' 

and are finally informed that they may purchase this 
edifying history on easy terms, to wit, a halfpenny, — 

' Due quattrini dia senza far piu parole.' 

The price, however, rose ; fur iu the next century the 
line is altered thus : — 

' Pero ciascun che compararne vuole, 
Tre quattriui mi diu senza piu parole.'" 

The woodcuts prefixed to the ballad represent this 
saintly Neliuchadnczzar on all fours, surprised by the 
king with his Imntsmen and dogs ; but no female figure, 
as in the German prints, in which the German A'crsion 
of the legend has evidently been in the mind of the 
artists. It differs in some respects from the Italian 
ballad. I shall thci-efore give as much of it here as 
will explain the artistic treatment of the story. 

"When John Chrysostom was baptized, the Pope* 
stood godfather. At seven years old he went to school, 

* The Greelc word Papa, here translated der (the Pope), 
betrays the Eastern origin of the story. It is the general title of 
the Greek priesthood, and means simply a priest, elevated iu the 
German legend into " the Pope." 



but he was so dull and backward that he becaire the 
laujrhing-stock of his schoolfellows. Unable to endure 
their mockery, lie took refuge in a neighboring church, 
and prayed to the Virgin ; and a voice whispered, 
' Kiss me on the moutli, and thou shalt be endowed 
with all learning.' He did so, and, returning to the 
school, he surpassed all his companions, so that they 
remained in astonishment : as they looked, they saw a 
golden ring or streak round his mouth, and asked him 
how it came there ; and when he told them, they won- 
dered yet more. Thence he obtained the name of 
Chrysostom. John was much beloved by his godfather 
the Pope, who ordained him priest at a very early age ; 
but the tirst time he offered the sacrifice of the mass, 
he was struck to the heart by his unworthiness, anrf 
resolved to seek his salvation in solitude ; thereforcr 
throwing off his priestly garments, he fled from the 
city, and made his dwelling in a cavern of the rock, 
and lived there a long while in prayer and meditation. 
" Now not far from the wilderness in which Chrysos' 
tom dwelt, was the capital of a great king ; and it hap- 
pened that one daj^, as the princess his daughter, who 
was young and very fair, was walking with her com- 
panions, there came a sudden and violent gust of wind, 
which lifted her up and carried her away, and set hei 
down in the forest, far off; and she wandered about 
till she came to the cave of Chrysostom, and knocked 
at the door. He, fearing some temptation of the Devil, 
would not let her in ; but she entreated, and said, ' 1 
am no demon, but a Christian woman ; and if thou 
leavest me here, the wild beasts will devour me.' So 
he yielded perforce, and arose and let her in. And he 
drew a line down the middle of his cell, and said, 
' That is your part, this is mine ; and neither shall 
pass this line.' But tiiis precaution was in vain, foi" 
passion and temptation overpowered his virtue ; he 
ovei-stepped the line, and sinned. Both repented sore- 
ly ; and Chrysostom, thinking that if the damsel re- 
mained longer in his cave it would only occasion further 


sin, carried her to a neighboring precipice, and flung 
her down. When he had done this deed, he was seized 
with horror and remorse ; and he departed and went to 
Rome to his godfatlier the Pope, and confessed all, and 
entreated absolution. But his godfather knew him not ; 
and, being seized with horror, he drove liim forth, and 
refused to absolve him. So the unhappy sinner fled to 
the wilderness, and made a solemn vow that he would 
never rise from the earth nor look up, but crawl on his 
hands and knees, until he had expiated his great sin 
and was absolved by Heaven. 

" When he had thus crawled on the earth for fifteen 
years, the queen brought forth & son ; and when the 
Pope came to baptize the child, the infant opened its 
mouth and said, ' I will not be baptized by thee, but 
by St. John ' ; and he repeated this three times : and 
none could understand this miracle ; but the Pope was 
afraid to proceed. In the mean time the king's hunts- 
men had gone to the forest to bring home game for tlie 
christening feast : there, as they rode, they beheld a 
strange beast creeping on the ground ; and not know- 
ing what it might be, they threw a mantle over it and 
bound it in a chain and brought it to the palace. Many 
came to look on this strange beast, and with them came 
the nurse with the king's son in her arms ; and imme- 
diately the child opened its mouth and spake, ' John, 
come thou and baptize me ! ' He answered, ' If it be 
God's will, speak again ! ' And the child spoke the 
same words a second and a third time. Then John 
stood up ; and the hair and the moss fell from his body, 
and they brought him garments ; and he took the child 
and baptized him with great devotion. 

" When the king heard his confession, he thought, 
' Perhaps this was my daughter, who was lost and never 
found ' ; and he sent messengers into the forest to seek 
for the remains of his daughter, that her bones at least 
might rest in consecrated ground. When they came 
to the foot of the precipice, there they found a beautiful 
woman seated, naked, and holding a child in her arms; 


and John said to her, ' Why sittest thou here alone in 
the wilderness ? ' And she said : ' Dost thou not know 
me 1 I am the woman who came to thy cave by niglit, 
and whom thou didst hurl down this rock ! ' Then 
they brouglit her home with great joy to her par- 

This extravagant legend becomes interesting for two 
reasons : it shows the existence of the popular feeling 
and belief with regard to Chrysostom, long subsequent 
to those events which aroused the hatred of the early 
monks ; and it has been, from its popular notoriety, 
embodied in some rare and valuable works of art, 
which all go under the name of " the Penance or Pen- 
itence of Johannes Chrysostom or Crisostomos." 

1. A rare print by Lucas Cranach, composed and 
engraved by himself. In the centre is an undraped 
woman reclining on the ground against a rock, and 
contemplating her sleeping infant, which is lying on 
her lap ; a stag, a hind crouching, a pheasant feeding 
near her, express the solitude of her life ; in the back- 
ground is " tlie savage man " on all fours, and brows- 
ing ; here he has no glory round his head. Tlie whole 
composition is exceedingly picturesque. 

2. A rare and beautiful print by B. Beham, and re- 
peated by Hans Sibald Beham, represents a woman 
lying on the ground with her back turned to the spec- 
tator ; a child is near her ; Chrysostom is seen crawl- 
ing in the background, with the glory round his head. 

3. A small print by Albert Dilrer, also exquisitely 
engraved. Here the womail is sitting at the entrance 
of a rocky cave, feeding her child from her bosom : in 
the background the "savage man" crawling on all 
fours, and a glory round his head. This subject has 
been called St. Ge'nevieve of Brabant ; but it is evi- 
dently the same as in the two last-named composi- 

* Kobui-gher, Legendensammlung, 148S, p. 325. Heller's Leben 
■nd Werke Albrecht Durer's, p. 440. 


All these prints, being nearly contemporaneous, show 
that the legend must have been particularly popular 
about this time (1509-1520). There is also an old 
French version of the story which I have not seen. 

St. Basil the Great. 

Lat. St. Basilius Magnus. Hal San Basilio Magno. Fr. St. Ba- 
sile. June 14, A. D. 380. 

St. Basil, called the Great, was born at Cesarea in 
Cappadocia, in the year 328. He was one of a family 
of saints. His father St. Basil, his mother St. Em- 
melie, his two brothers St. Gregory of Nyssa and St. 
Peter of Sebaste, and liis sister St. Macrina, were all 
distinguished for their sanctity, and renowned in the 
Greek calendar. The St. Basil who takes rank as the 
second luminary of the Eastern Church, and whose 
dogmatical and theological works influenced the faith 
of his own age, and consequently of oui-s, was the 
greatest of all. But, notwithstanding his iraportaifce 
in the Greek Church, he figures so seldom in the pro- 
ductions of Western Art, that I shall content myself 
with relating just so much of his life and actions as 
may render the few representations of him interesting 
and intelligible. 

He owed his first education to his grandmother St. 
Macrina the elder, a woman of singular capacity and 
attainments, to whom he has in various parts of his 
works acknowledged his obligations. For several years 
he pursued his studies in profane learning, philosophy, 
law, and eloquence, at Constantinople, and afterwards 
at Athens, where he had two companions and fellow- 
students of very opposite character : Gregory of Nazi- 
anzen, afterwards th.e Saint ; and Julian, afterwards 
the Apostate. 

The success of the youthful Basil in all his studies, 
and the reputation he had obtained as an eloquent 



pleader, for a time swelled his heart with vanity, and 
would have endangered his salvation but for the influ- 
ence of his sister, St. Macrina, who in this emergency 

preserved him from himself, and elevated his mind to 
far higher aims than those of mere worldly science and 
worldly distinction. From that period, and he was 
then not more than twenty-eight, Basil turned his 
thoughts solely to the edification of the Christian 
Church ; but first he spent some years in retreat 
among the hermits of the desert, as was the fashion 
of tliat day, living, as they did, in abstinence, poverty, 
and abstracted study ; acknowledging neither country, 
family, home, nor friends, nor fortune, nor worldly in- 
terests of any kind, but with his thoughts fixed solely 
on eternal life in another world. In these austerities 
he, as was also usual, consumed and ruined his bodily 
health ; and remained to the end of his life a feeble, 
wretched invalid, — a circumstance which was sup- 
posed to contribute greatly to his sanctity. He was 
ordained priest in 362, and Bishop of Cesarea in 370 ; 
his ordination on the 14th of June being kept as one 
of the great feasts of the Eastern Church. 

On the episcopal throne he led the same life of ab- 
stinence and luimility as in a cavern of the desert ; 
and contended for the doctrine of the Trinity against 
the Arians, but with less of vehemence, and more of 
charity, than the other Doctors engaged in the same 
controversy. The principal event of his life was his 
opposition to the Emperor Valens, who professed Ari- 
anism, and required that, in the churcii of Cesarea, 
Basil should perform the rites according to the custom 
of the Arians. The bishop refused : he was threat- 
ened with exile, confiscation, death : he persisted. The 
emperor, fearing a tumult, resolved to appear in the 
church on the day of the Epiphany, but not to com- 
municate. He came, hoping to overawe tlie impracti- 
cable bishop, surrounded by all his state, his courtiers, 
his guards. He found Basil so intent on his sacred 
office as to take not the s'ightest notice of him : thosa 


of the clergy around him continued to chant the ser- 
vice, keeping their eyes fixed in the profoundest awe 
and respect on the countenance of tlieir bishop. Valens, 
in a situation new to him, became agitated : he liad 
brought his oblation ; he advanced with it ; liut the 
ministers at the altar, not knowing whether Basil 
would accept it, dared not take it from his hands. 
Valens stood there for a moment in sight of all the 
people, rejected before the altar, — he lost his presence 
of mind, trembled, swooned, and would have fallen to 
the earth, if one of the attendants had not received 
him in his arms. A conference afterwards took place 
between Basil and the emperor ; but the latter re- 
mained unconverted, and some concessions to the 
Catholics was all that the bishop obtained. 

St. Basil died in 379, worn out by disease, and 
leaving behind him many theological writings. His 
epistles, above all, are celebrated, not only as models 
of orthodoxy, but of style. 

Of St. Basil, as of St. Gregory and St. John Chry- 
sostom, we have the story of the Holy Ghost, in visible 
form, as a dove of wonderful whiteness, perched on his 
shoulder, and inspiring his words when he preached. 
St. Basil is also celebrated as the founder of Mona- 
chism in the East. He was the first who enjoined the 
vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience; and his Eule 
became the model of all other monastic Orders. There 
is, in fact, no other Order in the Greek Church, and 
when either monks or nuns appear in a Greek or a 
Russian picture they must be Basilicans, and no other : 
the habit is a plain black tunic with a cowl, the tunic 
fastened round the waist with a girdle of cord or leather. 
Such is the dress of the Greek caloyer, and it never 

The devotional figures of St. Basil represent him, or 
ought to represent him, in the Greek pontihcals, hare- 
headed, and with a thin, worn countenance, as he ai> 
pears in the etching of the Greek Fathers. 


" The Emperor Yalens in the church at Ccsarea," 
an admirably picturesque subject, has received as little 
justice as the scene between Ambrose and Thcodosius. 
Wlien the French painter Subleyras was at Rome in 
1745, he raised himself to name and fame by his por- 
trait of Benedict XIV.,* and received, through the in- 
terest of his friend Cardinal Valenti, the commission 
to paint a picture for one of the mosaics in St. Peter's. 
The subject selected was the Emperor Valens fainting 
in presence of St. Basil. We have all the pomp of 
the scene : — the altai-, the incense, the richly attired 
priests on one side ; on the other, the Imperial court. 
It is not easy to find fault, for the picture is well 
drawn, well composed, in the mannered taste of that 
time ; well colored, rather tenderly than forcibly ; and 
Lanzi is enthusiastic in his praise of the draperies ; 
yet, as a whole, it leaves the mind unimjiressed. As 
usual, the oriu'inal sketch for this picture far excels the 
Targe composition.! 

The prayers of St. Basil were supposed by the Ar. 
menian Christians, partly from his sanctity, and partly 
from his intellectual endowments, to have a peculiar, 
almost resistless, power ; so that he not only redeemed 
souls from purgatory, but even lost angels from the 
abyss of hell. " On the sixth day of the creation, 
when the rebellious angels fell from heaven through 
that opening in the firmament which the Armenians 
call Arocea, and we the Galaxy, one unlucky angel, 
who had no participation in their sin, but seems to 
have been entangled in the crowd, fell with them." 
(A moral, I presume, on the consequences of keeping 
bad company.) " And this unfortunate angel was not 
restored till he had obtained, it is not said how, the 
prayers of St. Basil. His condition meantime, fronv 
the sixth day of the creation to the fourth century of 
the Christian era, must have been even more uncora- 

* Sutherland Gal. 

t " La mesee de Saint BasileS Louvre, Ecole Francjaise, 508. 


fortable than that of Klopstock's repentant demon in 
The Messiah." 

There are many other beautiful legendary stories of 
St. Basil, but, as I have never met \vith them iu any 
form of Art, I pass them over here. One of the most 
striking has been versified by Southey in his ballad- 
poem, " All for Love." It would afford a great va- 
riety of picturesque subjects. 

St. ATHANASitrs. 

Lat, S. Athanasius, Pater Orthodoxise. Jtal. Sant' Atanasio. 
Fr. St. Athanase. May 2, a. d. 373. 

St. Athanasius, whose famous Creed remains a 
stumbling-block in Christendom, was born at Alexan- 
dria, about the year 298 ; he was consequently the 
eldest of the Greek Fathers, though he does not in that 
Church take the first rank. He, like the others, began 
his career by the study of profane literature, science, 
and eloquence; but, seized by the religious spirit of 
the age, he, too, fied to the desert, and became, for a 
time, tlie jjupil of 8t. Anthony. He returned to Alex- 
andria, and was ordained deacon. His first appear- 
ance as a public character was at the celebrated council 
of iSfice (a. d. 325), where he opposed Arius and his 
partisans witli so much zeal and eloquence, that he was 
thenceforth regarded as the great pillar of orthodoxy. 
He became Bishop of Alexandria the following year ; 
.and the rest of his life was a perpetual contest with tlie 
Arians. The great schism of the early Church blazed 
at this time in the East and in the West, and Athana- 
sius, by his invincible perseverance and intrepidity, 
procured the victory for the Catholic party. He died 
in 372, after having been Bishop of Alcxiindria forty- 
six years, of which twenty years had been spent iu 
exile and tribulation. 



It is curious that, notwithstanding his fame ana hi3 
impoi'tancc in tlie Church, St. Athanasius should be, 
as a patron and a subject of Art, of all saints the most 
unpopular. He figures, of course, as one of the series 
of Greek Doctors ; but I have never met with any 
separate representation of him, and I know not any 
church dedicated to him, nor any picture representing 
the vicissitudes of his unquiet life, fraught as it wa* 
with strange reverses and picturesque incidents. Suci 
may exist, but in Western Art, at least, they hav\ 
never been prominent. According to the Greek for 
mula, he ought to be represented old, bald-headed, an{l 
with a long white beard. 

St. Gregory Nazianzen. 

Gr. St. Gregory Theologos. Lat. S. Gregorius Nazianzenus. 
Hal. San Gregorio Nazianzeuo. Fr. S. Gi'egoire de Nazi- 
■J'QCe. Ger. S. Gregor von Naziauz. May 9, a. d. 390. 

This Doctor, like St. Basil, was one of a family of 
saints ; his father, St. Gregory, having been bishop of 
Nazianzus before him ; his mother, St. Nonna, famous 
for her piety ; and two of his sisters, St. Gorgonia and 
St. Cesarea, also canonized. Gregory was born about 
the year 328 ; and his mother, who fondly believed 
that he had been granted to her prayers, watched over his 
early education, and guided his first steps in piety and 
literature When a boy, he had a singular dream, 
which he has relate! himself He beheld in his sleep 
two virgins of celestial beauty ; they were clothed in 
white garmerts, and their faces shone upon him like 
two stars out of heaven : they took him in their arms 
and kissed him as if he had been their child. He, 
charmed by their virgin beauty and their caresses, 
asked who they were, and whence they came ? One of 
them replied, " I am called Chastity, and my sister 
here is Temperance ; we come to thee from Paradi'ie» 
frhere we stand continually before the throne of Christ 


and taste ineffable deliehts : come to us, my son, and 
dwell with us forever " ; and having spoken thus, 
they left him and flew upwards to heaven. He fol- 
lowed them with lonp;ing eyes till they disappeared, 
and as he stretched his arms towards tliem he awoke. 

Tills dream — how natural in a hoy educated he- 
tween a tender mother, who had shielded him, as only 
mothers can, against all sinful temptations, and a 
lovely and saintly sister ! — he regarded as a direct rev- 
elation from Heaven ; it decided his future life, and he 
made a vow of perpetual continence and temperance. 
Like the other Greek doctors, he began l)y the study of 
profane literature and rlietoric. He went to Athens, 
where he formed an enduring friendship with St. Basil, 
and pursued his studies with Julian, afterwards Cajsar 
and Apostate. After leaving Athens, in his thirtieth 
year, he was baptized; and, devoting himself solemnly 
to the service of God and the study of tiie Scriptm-es, 
like his friend Basil, he destroyed his health by liis 
austerities and mortifications : he confesses that they 
■were wholly repugnant to his nature, — a nature sensi- 
tive, imaginative, ])oetical ; but this of course only 
added to their merit and efficacy. His aged father 
withdrew him from his solitude, and ordained him as 
his coadjutor : in 362 lie succeeded to the bishopric of 
Kazianus : but great part of his time was still spent at 
Constantinople, whither he was invited to preach 
against the Arians. It was a strange spectacle to see, 
in the capital of tlie world, a man, from a distant jirov- 
ince and an oliscure town, of small, slirunkeu stature, 
bald-headed, wrinkled, haggard with vigils and fasting, 
poor, ill-clothed, and in his address unpolished and 
abrupt, stand up to oppose himself to a luxurious 
court and ]irevalent sect. The people began by stoning 
him ; iiut at length his earnestness aud eloquence over- 
came all opposition. 

Religious disputes were the fiishion at that time in 
Constantinople, not merely among the ])riesthood, i)Ut 
among the laity, the lawyers, and above all the women. 


who were hearrl, in assemblies and at feasts, at home 
and abroad, declaiming and arguing on the most 
abstruse mysteries of the evangelical doctrine, till they 
lost tcm[)er and modesty : — so true it is, that there is 
nothing new under the sun. This was in 378, and St 
Gregory found more difficulty in silencing their squab, 
bles than in healing the schisms of the Church. He 
was ordained Bishop of Constantinople by the favor 
of Theodosius ; but, unable to endure the odious cabals 
and uncharitable contests which at that time distracted 
and disgraced Christianity, he resigned his sacred office, 
and retired to a small paternal estate, where he lived, 
with his usual self-denial and austerity, till his death. 
He composed in his retreat a nunilter of iieautiful 
poems in his native Greek : he was, in fact, the earli- 
est Christian poet on record. These poems are not 
hymns only, but lyrics, in which he poured forth his 
soul, his aspirations, his temptations, his joys, his suf- 
ferings, his plaintive supplications to Christ, to aid him 
in his perpetual combats against a too vivid imagina- 
tion, and feelings and passions which not even age 
and penance had subdued. 

St. Gregory Nazianzen ought to be represented as 
an old man, wasted by fasting and vigils, with a bald 
/lead, a long beard of a reddish color, and eyebrows 
t!ie same. He is always the last in a series of the 
Four Greek Fathers, and, though often occurring in 
Greek Art, the popularity of St. Gregory the Great 
has completely banished St. Gregory the Poet from 
Western Art. 

There remains, however, a very valuable and sin- 
gular monument to the honor of St. Gregory Kazian- 
zeii, in the Greek MS. of his sermons preserved in the 
Imperial Library at Paris, and adorned with Byzantine 
miniatures, which must once have been beautiful and 
brilliant : ruined as they are, tb.ey present some of the 
most ancient examples which remain to us of the 
treatment of many sacred subjects from the Old and 


the New Testament, and give a high idea of the classic 
taste and the skill of the Byzantine limners of the 
ninth century. Besides the sacred subjects, we have 
numerous scenes interspersed from the life of Gregory 
himself, his friend, St. Basil, and the Emperor Tlieo- 
dosius. As these are subjects which are exceptional, I 
need not describe them. Of the style of the minia- 
tures i have already spoken. 

St. Ctril. 

Lat. S. Cyrillus. Ital San Cirillo. Fr. S. Cyrille. 
Jan. 28, a. d. 44i. 

St. Ctril, Patriarch of Alexandria from the year 412 
to 444, was famous in his time as deeply engaged in 
all the contests which disturbed the early Christian 
Church. He has left a great number of theological 
writings, which are regarded as authority in matters of 
faith. He appears to have been violent against the so- 
called heresies of that day, and opposed Nestorius with 
the same determined zeal and inexorable firmness with 
which Athanasius had opposed Arius. The ascend- 
ency of Cyril was disgraced by the death of the famous 
female mathematician and plulosojiher Hypatia, mur- 
dered with horrible cruelty, and within the walls of a 
church, by the fanatic followers of the Patriarch, if he 
did not himself connive at it. He is much more ven- 
erated in the Greek, than in the Latin Church. In the 
Greek representations he is the only bishop who has 
his head covered ; he wears a veil or hood, coming 
over his head, falling down on his shoulders, and the 
front embroidered with a cross. 

With the Greek Fathers I conclude the list of those 
saints who are generally represented in their collective 
character, grouped, or in a series. 


St. Mart Magdalene. 

Lat. Sancta Maria Magdalena. Ital. Santa Maria Maddalena. 
Fr. La Madeleine. Ln Sainte Demoiselle pecheresse. July 22, 
A. D. 68 Patroness of Provence, of Marseilles, and of frail and 
penitent women. 

]F all the personages who fijrure in history, 
in poetry, in art, Mary Magdalene is at 
once the most unreal and the most real : — 
the most unreal, if we attempt to fix her 
identity, which has been a subject of dispute for ages ; 
the most real, if we consider her as having been, for 
ages, i-ecognized and accepted in every Christian heart 
as the impersonation of the penitent sinner absolved 
through faith and love. In this, her mythic character, 
she has been surrounded by associations which have 
become fixed in the imagination, and which no reason- 
ing, no array of facts, can dispel. This is not the 
place to enter into disputed points of Biblical criticism; 
they are cpxite beside our present purpose. Whether 
Mary Magdalene, " out of wliom Jesus cast seven 
devils," Mary of Bethany, and the " woman who 
was a sinner," be, as some authorities assert, three 
distinct persons, or, as others affirm, one and the same 


individual under different designations, remains a ques- 
tion open to dispute, nothing havin.o; been demonstrated 
on eitlier side, from Scripture or from tradition ; and 
I cannot presume even to give an opinion wliere doe- 
tors — and doctors of the Church, too — disagree ; 
Origen and St. Chrysostom taking one side of the 
question, St. Clement and St. Gregory the other. 
^ Fleury, after citing the opinions of both sides, thus 
beautifully sums up the whole question : — "II im- 
porte de ne pas croire temerairemcnt ce que I'Evangile 
ne dit point, et de ne pas mcttre la religion a suivre 
a.veuglement toutes les opinions populaires : la foi est 
trop pre'cieuse pour la prodiguer ainsi ; mais la charite 
Test encore plus ; et ce qui est le plus important, c'est 
d'eviter les disputes qui peuvent I'altercr tant soit ])eu." 
And this is most true ; — in his time the fast hold 
which the Magdalene had taken of the affections of 
the people was not to be shaken by theological re- 
searciies and doubts. Here critical accuracy was noth- 
ing less than profanation and scepticism, and to have 
attacked the sanctity of the Blessed Mary Magdalene 
would have embittered and alienated many kindly and 
many believing spirits. It is difficult to treat of Mary 
Magdalene ; and this difficulty would be increased in- 
finitely if it were absolutely necessary to enter on the 
much-vexed question of her Scriptural character and 
identity : one thing only appears certain, — that such 
a person, whatever might have been her veritalile ap- 
pellation, did exist. The woman who, under the name 
of Mary Magdalene, — whether that name be right- 
fully or wrongfully bestowed, — stands before us, sanc- 
tified in the imagination and in the faith of the people 
in her combined character of Sinner and of Saint, as 
the first-fruits of Christian penitence, — is a reality, 
and not a fiction. Even if we would, we cannot do 
away with the associations inseparably connected with 
he'' name and her image. Of all those to whom much 
has been forgiven, she was the first : of all the tears 
since ruefully shed at the foot of the cross of suffering. 


hers were the first : of all the hopes which the Resur- 
rection has since ditfiised through nations and genera- 
tions of men, liers were the first. To her sorrowful 
image how many have looked up through tears, and 
blessed the pardoning grace of which she was the sym- 
bol, — or rather the impersonation! Of the female 
samts, some were tlie chosen patrons of certain vir- 
tues, — others of certain vocations ; but the accepted 
and glorified penitent threw her mantle over all, and 
more especially over those of her own sex who, having 
gone astray, were recalled from error and from shame, 
and laid down their wrongs, their sorrows, and their 
sins in trembling humility at the feet of the Re- 

Xor is it only the popularity of Mary Magdalene as 
the representative and tiie patroness of repentant sin- 
riers which has multiplied her image through all Chris- 
tendom. As a subject for painting, 

" Whether the fair one sinner it or saint it," 

it is rich in picturesque capabilities. It combines all 
that can inspire, with all that can chasten the fancv ; 
yet, when we review what has been done, how inade- 
quate the result ! In no class of subjects have the 
mistakes of the painters, even the most distinguished, 
been so conspicuous as in the representation of the 
penitent Magdalene ; and it must be allowed that, 
with all its advantages and attractions, it is a subject 
full of perils and ditficulties. Where the penitent pre- 
vails, tiie saint appears degraded ; where the wasted, 
unclad form is seen attenuated by vigils and exposed 
in haggard unseemliness, it is a violation of that first 
great rule of Art which forbids the repulsive and the 
painful. And herein lies the fault of tlie earlier schools, 
and particularly of the old Greek and German paint- 
ers ; — tlieir matter-of-fact ugliness would be intolerable, 
if not redeemed by the intention and sentiment. On 
the other hand, where sensual beauty has obviously 
been the paramount idea in the artist's work, defeating 


its holiest purpose and perveiting its high significance, 
the violation of the moral sentiment is yet more revolt- 
ing. Tiiis is es])ecially the fault of the later painters, 
more particularly of the schools of Venice and Bo- 
logna : while the French painters are yet worse, adding 
affectation to licentiousness of sentiment ; the Abbe 
Mery exclaims with reasonable and pious indignation 
against that "a;V de gakmterie" which in his time was 
regarded as characteristic of Mary Magdalene. The 
" larmoyantes " penitents of Greuze — Magdalenes a 
la Pompadour — are more objectionable to my taste 
than those of Rubens. 

I shall give the legend of the Magdalene here as it 
was accepted by the people, and cmliodied by the arts, 
of the middle ages, setting aside those Eastern tradi- 
tions which represent the Mary of Betban}- and the 
Magdalene as distinct personages, and place the death 
and burial-place of Mary Magdalene at Epliesus. Our 
business is with the Western legend, which has been 
the authority for Western Art. This legend, besides 
attributing to one individual, and blending into one 
narrative, the very few scattered notices in the Gospels, 
has added some other incidents, inconceivably wild and 
incredii)le, leaving hjr, however, the invariable attri- 
butes of the frail, loving woman, the sorrowing peni- 
tent, and the devout, enthusiastic saint. 

Mary Magdalene was of the district of Magdala, on 
the shores of the sea of Galilee, where stood her castle, 
called Magdalon ; she w'as the sister of Lazarus and 
of Martha, and they were the children of parents re- 
puted noble, or, as some say, of royal race. On the 
death of their father, Syrns, they inherited vast riches 
and possessions in land, which were equally divided 
between them. Lazarus betook himself to the military 
life ; Martha ruled her possessions with great discre- 
tion, and was a model of virtue and propriety, — per- 
haps a little too much addicted to worldly cares: Mary, 
on the contrary, abandoned herself to luxurious pleas- 


ures, and became at length so notorious for her disso- 
lute life, that she was known through all the country 
I'ound only as " the Sinner." Her discreet sister, 
Martha, frequently rebuked her for these disorders, and 
at length persuaded her to listen to the exhortations of 
Jesus, through which her heart was touched and con- 
verted. The seven demons which possessed her, and 
•whicli were expelled by tlie power of the Lord, were 
the seven deadly sins to which she was given over be- 
fore her conversion. On one occasion Martha enter- 
tained the Saviour in her house, and, being anxious to 
feast him worthily, she was " cumbered with much 
serving." Mary, meanwhile, sat at the feet of Jesus, 
and heard his words, which completed the good work 
of her conversion ; and when, some time afterwards, 
he supped in the house of Simon the Pharisee, she fol- 
lowed him thither, " and she brought an alabaster box 
of ointment, and began to wash his feet with tears, and 
did wipe them with the hair of her head, and kissed 
his feet, and anointed them with ointment ; and He 
said unto her. Thy sins are forgiven." She became 
afterwards one of the most devoted of his followers ; 
" ministered to him of her substance " ; attended him 
to Calvary, and stood weeping at the foot of the cross. 
She, with the other Mary, watched by his tomb, and 
was the first to whom he appeared after the resurrec- 
tion ; her unfaltering faith, mingled as it was with the 
intensest grief and love, obtained for her this peculiar 
mark of favor. It is assumed by several commentators 
that our Saviour appeared first to Mary Magdalene be- 
cause she, of all those whom he had left on earth, had 
most need of consolation : " The disciples went away 
to their own home ; but Mary stood without the sepulchre, 

Thus far the notices in the Gospel and the sugges- 
tions of commentators : the old Provencal legend then 
continues the story. After the ascension, Lazarus with 
his two sisters, Martha and Mary ; with Maximin, one 


of the seventy-two disciples, from whom they had re- 
ceived baptism ; Cedon, the blind man whom our 
Saviour had restored to sit^ht ; and Manella, the 
handmaiden who attended on the two sisters, — were 
by the heathens set adrift in a vessel without sails, 
oars, or rudder ; but, guided by Providence, they 
were safely borne over the sea till they landed in a 
certain harbor which proved to be Marseilles, in the 
country now called France. The people of the land 
were Pajrans, and refused to give the holy pilgrims 
food or shelter ; so they were fain to take rel'uge under 
the porch of a temple ; and Mary Magdalene preached 
to the people, reproaching them for their senseless wor- 
ship of dumb idols ; and though at first they would 
not listen, yet being after a time convinced by her elo- 
quence, and by the miracles performed by her and by 
her sister, they were converted and baptized. And 
Lazarus became, after the death of the good Maximin, 
the first bishop of Marseilles. 

These things being accomplished, Mary Magdalene 
retired to a desert not far from the city. It was a 
frightful, barren wilderness, in the midst of liorrid rocks 
and caves : and here for thirty years she devoted her- 
self to solitary penance for the sins of her past life, 
which she had never ceased to bewail bitterly. During 
this long seclusion, she was never seen or heard of, and 
it was supposed that she was dead. She fasted so rigor- 
ously, that but for the occasional visits of the angels, 
and the comfort Ix'stowed by celestial visions, she 
must have perisiied. Every day, during the last years 
of her penance, the angels came down from heaven 
and carried her up in their arms into regions where 
she was ravished by the sounds of unearthly harmony, 
and beheld the glory and the joy prepared for the sinner 
that repenteth. One day a certain hermit, who dwelt 
in a cell on one of those wild mountains, having wan- 
dered farther than usual from his home, beheld this 
wondrous vision, — the Magdalene in the arms of 
ascending angels, who were singing songs of triumph 


as they bore her upwards ; and the hermit, when he 
had a little recovered from his amazement, returned to 
the city of Marseilles, and reported what he had seen. 
According: to some of the legends, Mary Magdalene 
died within the walls of the Christian church, after 
receiving the sacrament from the hand of St. ilaximin ; 
but the more popular accounts represent her as dving 
in her solitude, while angels watched over and minis- 
tered to her. 

The middle of the thirteenth century was an era of 
religious excitement all over the South of Europe. A 
sudden fit of penitence, — " una subita compunzione," 
as an Italian author calls it, seized all hearts ; relics 
and pilgrimages, and penances and monastic ordi- 
nances, filled all minds. About this period, certain 
remains, supposed to be those of Mary Magdalene and 
Lazarus, were discovered at a place since called St. 
Maximin, at)Out twenty miles north of Toulon. The 
discovery strongly excited the devotion and enthusiasm 
of the people ; and a church was founded on the spot 
by Charles, count of Provence (the brother of St. 
Louis), as early as 1279. A few years afterwards, this 
prince was vanquished and taken prisoner by the king 
of Aragon, and when at length set free after a long 
captivity, he ascribed his deliverance particularly to the 
intercession of his chosen patroness, Mary Magdalene. 
This incident greatly extended her fame as a saint of 
power; and from this time we may date her popularity, 
and those sculptural and pictorial representations of 
her, under v.arious aspects, which, from the fourteenth 
century to the present time, have so multiplied, that 
scarcely any Catholic place of worship is to be found 
without her image. In fact, it is difficult for us, ia 
these days, to conceive, far more difficult to sympa- 
thize with, the passionate admiration and devotion with 
which she was regarded by her votaries in the middle 
ages. The imputed sinfulness of her life only brought 
her nearer to them. Those who did not dare to lift 



up their eyes to the more saintly models of purity and 
holiness, — to the martyrs who had suffered in the 
cause of chastity, — took courage to invoke her inter- 
cession. The extravagant titles bestowed upon her in 
the middle ages, — " rumante de Jesus Christ," "la bien- 
ainie'e du Sauveur," " la tres-saincte demoiselle pe'cheresse" 
— and others which I should hardly dare to transcribe, 
show the spirit in which she was worshipped, particu- 
larly in the South of France, and the kind of chivalrous 
sentiment which mingled with the devotion of her 
adorers. I found in an old French sermon a culogium 
of Mary Magdalene, which for its eloquence and inge- 
nuity seems to me without a parallel. The preacher, 
while ackiiowlcdghig the excesses which brought her a 
penitent to the feet of Christ, is perfectly scandalized 
that she should be put on a par wiiii common sinners 
of the same class, and that on tlie faith of a passage in 
St. Luke, " On a ose' fle'trir une des plus belles ames 
qui soit jamais sortie des mains du (^reateur ! " He 
rather glorifies her as a kind of Aspasia, to whom, 
indeed, he in a maimer compares her.* 

* " Pour rous ramener i des iJees plus favorables 4 la Made- 
leine, vous transportant au temps et aux circoiistauces ou vecut 
cette c^lebre Israelite, je pourrais vous dire, Messieurs, que 
I'antiquit^, ne jugeant pas Equitable d'exiger plus de vertu du 
Bexe repute pour le plus faible, ne croyait pas les femines des- 
houorees de ce qui ne deshouorait pas les homines i ses yeux ; 
qu'elle a d'ailleurs toujours ete bien moins severe i des senti- 
ments qui, naissant avec nous, lui paraissaient une partie de 
nous-memes, et qu'elle n'attacha jamais aucune idee fletrissante 
aux suites d'une passion qu'elle trouvalt presque aussi pardonna- 
ble que naturelle. Les grlces de la beaute etaient alors re- 
gardees comme les autres talents ; et I'art de plaire, aussi au 
torise que les autres arts, loin d'iiispirer de I'eloignement," &c. 

After describing in glowing terras, her splendid position in the 
world, her illustrious rank, her understanding, ^^ droit, sniide, et 
deHcat" her "grace," her " esprit," her wondrous beauty, par- 
ticularly her superb hair, " cu/tivi avec tant de soin, arrantfi 
avec tant d^art " ; and lamenting that a creature thus nobly 
gifted should have been cast away upon the same rock which had 
shipwrecked the greatest, the most illustrious, of her compatriotea, 



The traditional scene of the penance of the Magda- 
lene, a wild spot between Toulon and Marseilles, is the 

" le fort Samson, le preux David, le sage Solomon" ; he 
goes on to d'.-scribe, with real eloquence, and in a less offensive 
strain of panegyric, her devotion at the foot of the cross, her pious 
visit to the tomb by break of day, braving the fury of the guards, 
the cruelty of the Jews, and taliing the place of the apostles, who 
were d ispersed or fled. And thus he winds up with a moral, most 
extraordinary when we recollect that it was preached from a pul- 
pit by a grave doctor in theology : — 

" Jeunes personnes qui vivez encore dans I'innocence ! ap- 
prenez done de la Madeleine, corabien grands sont les perils de 
la jeunesse, de la beaute, de tons les dons purement naturels ; 
Bouvenez-vous que le desir excessif de plaire est toujours dan- 
gereux, rarement innocent, et qu'il est bien difficile de donner 
beaucoup de sentiments, sans en prendre soimeme. A la vue des 
faiblesses de la jeune Israelite, comprenez de quelle importance 
est, pour vous, la garde de votre coeur ; et a quels desordres il 
vous expose, si vous ne vous accoutumez i le contrarier sans 
cesse, en tons ses penchants. 

" Femmes mondaines, et peut-etre voluptueuses ! apprenez de 
la Madeleine k revenir de vos ecarts ; ils ont ete, dans vous, le 
fruit de la faiblesse humaine ; que votre retour soit le fruit de 
votre correspondance k la grace. Et pourriez-vous ou vous pro. 
poser un modele plus digne d'etre suivi que celui que vous 
presente Madeleine, ou trouver ailleurs un motif plus puissant de 
le suivre ? 

" Et vous qui, fieres d'une reserve que vous ne devez peut- 
6tre qu'a votre insensibilite, vous en faites un rempart, a I'abri 
duquel vous croyez pouvoir mepriser toute la terre, et dont la 
mondanite de Madeleine elle-meme a peut-etre scandalise la 
precieuse vertu ! femmes plus vaines que sages 1 apprenez de 
notre Sainte, qu"il n'y a que la grace de Dieu et une attention 
continuelle sur nous-memes qui puissent nous aider constamment 
centre la pcnte qui nous precipite vers le mal ; et eraignez qu'on 
ne puisse vous dire, i son sujet, ce que Saint Augustin disait k 
une devote de votre caract^re, pleine d'elle-meme et m6disante : 
' Plut k Dieu que vous eussiez donne dans les memes exces dont 
vous croyez-si volontiers les autres capables !■ vous seriez moins 
41oignee du royaume de Dieu ; du moins vous auriez de 
I'humanite ! ' " 

Le Brun's Magdalene is just the Magdalene described by this 
preacher : both one and the other are as like the Magdalene of 
Scripture, as Leo X. was like St. Peter. 


site of a famous convent called La Saints Beaume 
(which in the Proven9aI tongue sifrnifies Holy Cave), 
formerly a much frequented place of pilgrimajre. It is 
built on the verge of a formidable precipice ; near it is 
the grotto in which the saint resided ; and to Mount 
Pilon, a rocky point about six hundred feet above the 
grotto, the angels bore her seven times a day to pray. 
This convent was destroyed and pillaged at the com- 
mencement of the French Revolution. It was filled 
with relics and works of art, referring to the life and 
the worship of the Magdalene. 

But the most sumptuous fane ever erected to her 
special honor is that which, of late years, has arisen 
in the city of Paris. The church, or rather the temple, 
of La Madeleine stands an excelling monument, if 
not of modern piety, at least of modern Art. It is 
built on the model of the temple of Jupiter at Athens. 

"That noble type is realized again 
In perfect form; and dedicate — to whom ? 
To a poor Syrian girl of lowliest name, — 
A hapless creature, pitiful and frail 
As ever wore her life in sin and shame ? " 

R. M. MiLNES. 

The saint, whether she were " the lowly Syrian girl " 
or the " Princess of Magdala," would be equally aston- 
ished to behold herself thus honored with a sort of 
pagan magnificence in the midst of a luxurious capital, 
and by a people more remarkable for scoffing than for 
praying. Even in the successive vicissitudes of this 
splendid edifice there is something strange. That 
which is now the temple of the lowly penitent was, a 
few years ago, Le Temple de la Gloire. 

Let us now turn to those characteristic representa- 
tions with which painting and sculpture have made us 
familiar, and for wiiich both Scripture and legendary 
tradition have furnished the authority and the ground- 
work. These are so numerous and so infinitely varied 
that I find it necessary here, as in the case of St. Jerome, 
to arrange them under several heads. 


The devotional representations may be divided into 
two classes : 1. Those which represent the Magdalene 
as patron saint. 2. Those which represent iier peni- 
tence in the desert. 

The historical subjects may also be divided into two 
classes : 1. Those scenes from Gospel story in which 
Mary Magdalene figures as a chief or conspicuous 
personage. 2. The scenes taken from her legendary life. 
In all these subjects the accompanying attribute is 
the alabaster box of ointment ; which has a double sig- 
nificance : it may be the perfume which she poured 
over the feet of the Saviour, or the balm and spices 
which she had prepared to anoint his body. Sometimes 
she carries it in her hand, sometimes it stands at her 
feet, or near her ; frequently, in later pictures, it is 
borne by an attendant angel. The shape varies with 
the fancy of the artist ; it is a small vase, a casket, a 
box, a cup with a cover; more or less ornamented, 
more or less graceful in form; but always there, — the 
symbol at once of her conversion and her love, and so 
peculiar that it can leave no doubt of her identitv. 
Her drapery in the ancient pictures is usually red, to 
express the fervor of her love ; in modern representa- 
tions, and where she figures as penitent, it is either 
blue or violet ; violet, the color of mourning and pen- 
itence, — blue, the color of constancy. To express 
both the love and the sorrow, she sometimes wears a 
violet-colored tunic and a red mantle. The luxuriant 
hair ought to be fair or golden. Dark-haired Magda- 
ienes, as far as I can remember, belong exclusively to 
the Spanish school. 

1. When exhibited to us as the patron saint of re- 
pentant sinners, Mary Magdalene is sometimes a thin, 
wasted ilgure, with long, dishevelled hair, of a pale 
golden hue, falling over her slioulders almost to the 
ground ; sometimes a skin or a piece of linen is tied 
;ound her loins, but not seldom her sole drapery is her 
long, redundant hair. The most ancient single figure 
of this character to which I can refer is an old picture 


in the Byzantine manner, as old perhaps as the thir- 
teenth century, and now in the Academy at Floi'ence. 
She is standing' as patroness, covered only by her long 
hair, which falls in dark brown masses to her feet : the 
color, I imagine, was originally much lighter. She 
is a meagre, haggard, grim-looking figure, and holds 
in her hand a scroll, on which is inscribed in ancient 
Gothic letters, — 

" Kt Irtspcrtctfs 
l^os qui prrcarc solrtts 
ISvcmplo mco 
Uos vcparate IBto." * 

Rude and unattractive as is this specimen of ancient 
Art, I could not look at it without thinking how often 
it must have spoken hope and peace to the soul of the 
trembling sinner, in days when it hung, not in a pic- 
ture-gallery to be criticised, but in a shrine to be wor- 
shipped. Around this figure, in the manner of the old 
altar-pieces, are six small, square compartments, con- 
taining scenes from her life. 

The famous statue carved in wood by Donatello, in 
point of character may be referred to this class of 
subjects : she stands over her altar in the Baptistery 
at Florence, with clasped hands, the head raised in 
prayer; the form is very expressive of wasting grief 
and penance, but too meagre for beauty. " Egli la 
voile specckio alle penitenti, non incitamento alia cupkUzia 
degli sguardi, come aiKnne ad altri artlsti," says Cicog- 
nara ; and, allowing that beauty has been sacrificed to 
expression, he adds, " But if Donatello had done all, 
what would have remained for Canova ? " That 
which remained for Canova to do, he has done ; he has 
made her as lovely as" possible, and he has dramatized 
the sentiment : she is more the penitent than tlie pa- 
tron saint. The display of the beautiful limbs is 

• The original Latin distich runs thus : — 

" Ne desperetis vos qui peccare soletis. 
Esemploque meo vos reparte Deo." 


chastened by the humility of the attitude, — half kneel- 
ing, half prostrate ; by the expression of the drooping 
head, — " all sorrow's softness ciiarmed from its de- 
spair." Her eyes are fixed on the cross which lies ex- 
tended on her knees ; and she weeps, — not so much 
her own past sins, as the sacrifice it has cost to redeem 
them. Tills is the prevailing sentiment, or, as the 
Germans would call it, tlie motiae of the representation, 
to which I should feel inclined to object as deficient in 
dignity and severity, and bordering too much on the 
genre and dramatic style : but the execution is almost 
faultless. Very beautiful is another modern statue of 
the penitent Magdalene, executed in marl)le for the 
Count d'Espagnac, by M. Henri de Triqueti. She is 
half seated, half reclining, on a fragment of rock, and 
pressing to her bosom a crown of thorns, at once the 
mourner and the penitent : the sorrow is not for her- 
self alone. 

But, in her character of patron saint, Mary Magda- 
lene was not always represented with the squalid or 
pathetic attributes of humiliation and penance. She 
became idealized as a noble, dignified creature, bearing 
no traces of sin or of sorrow on her beautiful face ; her 
luxuriant hair bound in tresses round her head ; her 
drapery rich and ample ; the vase of ointment in her 
hand or at her feet, or borne by an angel near her. 
Not unfrequently she is attired with the utmost mag- 
nificence, either in reference to her former state of 
worldly prosperity, or rather, perhaps, that with the 
older painters, particularly those of the German school, 
it was a common custom to clothe all the ideal figures 
of female saints in rich habits. In the fourteenth and 
fifteenth centuries such representations of the Magda- 
lene are usual both in Italian and German Art. A 
beautiful instance may be seen in a picture by Signo- 
relli, in the Cathedral of Orvieto, wliere she is standing 
in a landscape, her head uncovered, and the ricli golden 
hair partly braided, paitly flowing over her shoulders ; 
she wears a magnificent tunic, embroidered with gold, 


over it a flowing mantle descending to her feet ; she 
holds the vase with her left hand, and points to it with 
her right. If it were not for the saintly aureole en- 
circling her head, this figure, and others similar to it, 
might be mistaken for Pandora. See, for example, the 
famous print by Lucas v. Leyden, where she stands on 
clouds, with an embroidered coif and flowing mantle, 
holding the vase in her left hand, and lifting the cover 
with her right; and in the half-length by Leonardo, or 
one of his school. The want of a religious sentiment 
gives such figures a very heathen and Pandora look, 
BO that the aureole alone fixes the identity. This is 
not the case with a noble Magdalene by Dennis Cal- 
vert, in the Manfrini Palace at Venice. She is stand- 
ing in a fine, bold landscape ; one hand sustains her 
ample crimson drapery, the other holds her vase ; her 
fair hair falls in masses over lier shoulders, and she 
looks down on her worshippers with a serious, dignified 
compassion. This is one of the finest pictures of the 
later Bologna school, finer and truer in sentiment than 
any of the Caracci and Guido Magdalenes. 

In this her wholly divine and ideal character of saint 
and intercessor, Mary Magdalene is often most beau- 
tifully introduced as standing near the throne of the 
Virgin, or as grouped with other saints. In two of 
the most famous pictures in the woi'ld she is thus 
represented. In the St. Cecilia of Raphael, she stands 
on the left, St. Paul being on the right of the principal 
figure ; they are here significant of the conversion of 
the man through power, of the woman through love, 
from a state of reprobation to a state of reconcilement 
and grace. St. Paul leans in deep meditation on his 
sword. Mary Magdalene is habited in ample drapery 
of blue and violet, which she sustains with one hand, 
and bears the vase in the other. She looks out of tho 
picture with a benign countenance and a particularly 
graceful turn of the head. Raphael's original design 
for this picture (engraved by Mare Antonio) is, how 
ever, preferable in the sentiment given to the Magda- 



lene : she does not look out of the picture, but she 
looks up : she also hears the divine music which has 
ravished St. Cecilia. In the picture she is either un- 
conscious or inattentive. 

In the not less celebrated St. Jerome of Correggio 
she is on the left of the Madonna, bending down with 
an expression of the deepest adoration to kiss the feet 
of the Infiint Christ, while an angel behind holds up 
the vase of ointment ; thus recalling to our minds, 
and shadowing forth in the most poetical manner 
that memorable act of love and homage rendered at 
the feet of the Saviour. Parmigiano has represented 
her, in a Madonna picture, as standing on one side, 
and the prophet Isaiah on the other. Lord Ashburton 
has a fine picture by Correggio, in which we have the 
same ideal representation • she is here grouped with 
St. Peter, St. Margaret, and St. Leonardo. 

There are two classes of subjects in which Mary 
Magdalene is richly habited, and which must be care- 
fully distinguislied ; those above described, in which 
she figures as patron saint, and those which represent 
her before her conversion, as the votary of luxury and 
pleasure. In the same manner we must be careful to 
distinguish those figures of the penitent Magdalene 
which are wholly devotional in character and intention, 
and which have been described in the first class, from 
those which represent her in the act of doing penance, 
and which are rather dramatic and sentimental than 

2. The penance of the Magdalene is a subject which 
has become, like the penance of St. Jerome, a symbol 
of Christian penitence, but still more endeared to the 
popular imagination by more affecting and attractive 
associations, and even more eminently picturesque, — 
so tempting to the artists, that by their own jiredilec- 
tion for it they have assisted in making it universal. 
In the display of luxuriant female forms, shadowed 
(not hidden) by redundant fair hair, and flung in all 


the abandon of solitude, amid the depth of leafy re- 
cesses, or relieved by the dark umbrageous rocks ; in 
the association of love and beauty with the symbols of 
death and sorrow and utter humiliation ; the painters 
had ample scope, ample material, for the exercise of 
their imagination and the display of their skill : and 
what has been the result ? They have abused these 
capabilities even to license ; they have exhausted the 
resources of Art in the attempt to vary the delineation ; 
and yet how seldom has the ideal of this most ex- 
quisite subject been — I will not say realized — but 
even approached ? We have Magdalenes who look 
as if they never could have sinned, and others who 
look as if they never could have repented ; we have 
Venetian Magdalenes with the air of courtesans, and 
Florentine Magdalenes with the air of Ariadncs ; and 
Bolognese Magdalenes like sentimental Niobes ; and 
French Magdalenes, moitie galantes, inoitie devotes ; and 
Dutch Magdalenes, who wring their hands like repent- 
ant washerwomen. The Magdalenes of Rubens re- 
mind us of nothing so much as of the " unfortunate 
Miss Bailey " ; and the Magdalenes of Van Dyck are 
fine ladies who have turned Methodists. But Mary 
Magdalene, such as we have conceived her, mournful 
yet hopeful, — tender yet dignified, — worn with grief 
and fasting, yet radiant with the glow of love and faith, 
and clothed with the beauty of holiness, — is an ideal 
which painting has not yet realized. Is it beyond the 
reach of Art ? We might have answered this question, 
had Raphael attempted it ; — but he has not. His 
Magdalene at the feet of Christ is yet unforgiven, — 
the forlorn castaway, not the devout penitent. 

The Magdalene doing penance in her rocky desert 
tirst became a popular subject in the sixteenth century ; 
in the seventeenth it was at the height of favor. There 
are two distinct versions of the subject, infinitely varied 
as to detail and sentiment ; either she is represented as 
bewailing her sins, or as reconciled to Heaven. 

In the former treatment she lies prostrate on the 


earth, or she is standing or kneeling at the entrance of 
the cave (in some of the old illuminated missals the 
upper part of her body is seen emerging from a cave, 
or rather a hole in the ground), the hands clasped, or 
extended towards heaven ; the eyes streaming with 
tears ; the long yellow hair floating over the shoulders. 
The crucifix, the skull, and sometimes the scourge, are 
introduced as emblems of faith, mortality, and penance; 
weeping augels present a crown of thorns. 

In the latter treatment, she is reading or meditating ; 
the expression is serene or hopeful ; a book lies beside 
the skull ; angels present the palm, or scatter flowers ; 
a vision of glory is seen in the skies. 

The alabaster box is in all cases the indispensable 
attribute. The eyes are usually raised, if not in grief, 
in supplication or in aspiration. The " uplifted eye " 
as well as the " loose hair " became a characteristic ; 
but there are some exceptions. The conception of 
character and situation, which was at first simple, be- 
came more and more picturesque, and at length theat- 
rical, — a mere vehicle for sentiment and attitude. 

1. The earliest example I can remember of the Pen- 
itent Magdalene, dramatically treated, remains as yet 
unsurpassed ; — the reading Magdalene of Correggio, 
in the Dresden Gallery. This lovely creation has only 
one fault, — the virginal beauty is that of a Psyche or 
a Seraph. In Oelenschlager's drama of " Correggio," 
there is a beautiful description of this far-famed pic- 
ture ; he calls it "Die Gottinn des Waldes Frommig- 
neit," — the goddess of the religious solitude. And in 
truth, if we could imagine Diana reading instead of 
hunting, she might have looked thus. Oelenschlager 
has made poetical use of the tradition that Correggio 
painted this Magdalene for a poor monk who was his 
confessor or physician ; and thus he makes Silvestro 
comment on the work : — 

" What a fair picture ! — 
This dark o'erhanging shade, the long fair hair, 
The delicate white skin, the azure robe, 


The full luxuriant life, the grim death's head, 
The tender womanhood, and the great book : — 
These various contrasts have you cunningly- 
Brought into sweetest harmony." 

But truei', at least nobler in sentiment, is the Mag- 
dalene by the same painter (in the Manfrini Palace, 
Venice), of the same size and similarly draped in dark 
blue ; but here standing at the entrance of her cave. 
She leans her elbow on the book which lies on the 
rock, and appears to be meditating on its contents. 
The head, seen in front, is grand and earnest, with a 
mass of fair hair, a large wide brow, and deep, deep 
eyes full of mystery. The expression of power in this 
head pleases me especially, because true to the charac- 
ter, as I conceive it. 

" Doch ist es schon von einem Weibe, mein ich, 
Einmal gefalleu wieder sich zu heben ; 
Es gibt sehr wen'ge Manner die das kbnnen 1 " 

" Yes ! it is good to see a hapless woman, 
That once has fallen, redeem herself ! In truth, 
There be few men, methinks, could do as much." 

Corregyio, Act I. Scene I. 

I do not know why this lovely Manfrini picture 
should be so much less celebrated than the Dresden 
Magdalene : while the latter has been multiplied by 
copies and engravings, I do not remember a single 
print after the Manfrini Magdalene. There is a bad, 
feeble copy in the Louvre ; * I know no other. 

2. There is a celebrated picture by Timoteo della 
Vite, in the Bologna Gallery. She is standing before 
the entrance of her cavern, arrayed in a crim.son man- 
tle ; her long hair is seen beneath descending to her 
feet ; the hands joined in prayer, the head declined on 
one side, and the whole expression that of girlish inno- 
cence and simplicity, with a touch of the pathetic. A 
mendicant, not a Magdalene, is the idea suggested ; 
and, for myself, I confess that at the first glance I was 

* It was in the Standish Gallery belonging to Louis-Phil ipjie, 
»nd now dispersed. 


reminded of the little Red-Riding-Hood, and could 
think of no sin that could have been attributed to 
such a face and figure, beyond the breaking of a pot 
of butter : yet the picture is very beautiful. 

3. The Magdalene of Titian was so celebrated in his 
own time, that he painted at least five or six repeti- 
tions of it, and copies and engravings have since been 
multiplied. The eyes, swimming in tears, are raised 
to lieaven ; tiie long dishevelled hair floats over her 
shoulders ; one hand is pressed on her bosom, the 
other rests on the skull ; the forms are full and round, 
the coloring rich ; a book and a box of ointment lie 
before her on a fragment of rock. She is sufficiently 
woeful, but seems rather to regret her past life than to 
repent of it, nor is there anything in the expression 
Avhich can secure us against a relapse. Titian painted 
the original for Charles V. His idea of the pose was 
borrowed, as we are told, from an antique statue, and 
his model was a young girl, who being fatigued with 
long standing, the tears ran down her face, " and 
Titian attained tlie desired expression." (!) His idea 
therefore of St. ilary Magdalene was the fusion of an 
antique statue and a girl taken out of the streets ; and 
with all its beauties as a work of art — and very beau- 
tiful it is — this chef d'aeuvre of Titian is, to my taste, 
most unsatisfactory. 

4. Cigoli's Magdalene is seated on a rock, veiled 
only by her long hair, which falls over the whole figure ; 
the eyes, still wet with tears, are raised to lieaven ; 
one arm is round a skull, the right hand rests on a 
book which is on her knees. 

5. The Magdalene of Carlo Cignani, veiled in her 
dishevelled hair, and wringing her hands, is also most 
affecting for the fervent expression of sorrow ; both 
these are in the Florence Gallery.* 

* There is a beautiful half-length female figure, attributed to 
Correggio. and engraved under the title of " Gismuiida" weeping 
over the heart of her lover, in the collection of the Duke of New- 
castle. The duplicate in the Belvedere Gallery at Vienna is there 
styled a Magdalene, and attributed correctly to Francesco Furiui- 


6. Guido, regarded as the painter of Magdalenes 
par excelleiKe, has carried this mistake yet further ; he 
had ever tlie classical Niobe in his mind, and liis 
saintly penitents, with all their exceeding loveliness, 
appear to me utterly devoid of that beauty which has 
been called " the beauty of holiness " ; the reproachful 
grandeur of the Niobe is diluted into voluptuous feeble- 
ness ; the tearful face, with the loose golden hair and 
uplifted eyes, of which he has given us at least ten 
repetitions, however charming as art, as painting are 
unsatisfactory as religious representations. I cannot 
except even the beautiful study in our National Gal- 
lery, nor the admired full-length in the Sciarra Palace, 
at Rome ; the latter, when I saw it last, appeared to 
me poor and mannered, and the pale coloring not 
merely delicate, but vapid. A head of Mary Magda- 
lene reading, apparently a study from life, is, however, 
in a grand style.* 

7. Murillo's Magdalene, in the Louvre, kneeling, 
with hands crossed on her bosom, eyes upraised and 
parted lips, has eager, devout hope as well as sorrow 
in the countenance. 8. But turn to the Magdalene 
of Alonzo Cano, which hangs near : drooping, neg- 
ligent of self ; the very hands are nerveless, languid, 
dead.t Nothing but woe, guilt, and misery are in the 
face and attitude : she has not yet looked into the 
face of Christ, nor sat at his feet, nor heard from bis 
lips, " Woman, thy sins be forgiven thee," nor darc(l 
to hope; it is the penitent only: the whole head is 
faint, and the whole heart sick. 9. But the beautiful 
Magdalene of Annibal Caracci has heard the words of 
mercy : she has memories which are not of sin only ; 
angelic visions have already come to her in that wild 
solitude : she is seated at the foot of a tree ; she leans 
her cheek on her right hand, the other rests on a skull ; 
she is in deep contemplation ; but her thoughts are uot 

* Iiiohtenstein Gal. 

t These two pictures were sold out of the Louvre with King 
Louis- Philippe's pictures. 


of death : the upward ardent look is full of hope, and 
faith, and love. The fault of this beautiful little pic- 
ture lies in the sacrifice of the truth of the situation to 
the artistic feelinj; of beauty, — the common fault of the 
school ; the forms are large, round, full, untouched by- 
grief and penance. 

10. Vandyck's Magdalenes have the same fault as 
his Madonnas ; they are not feeble nor voluptuous, but 
they are too elegant and ladylike. I remember, for 
example, a Deposition by Vandyck, and one of his 
finest pictures, in which Mary Magdalene kisses the 
hand of the Saviour with quite the air of a princess. 
The most beautiful of his penitent Magdalenes is the 
half-length figure with the face in profile, bending with 
clasped hands over the crucifix ; the skull and knotted 
scourge lie on a shelf of rock behind ; underneath is 
the inscription, " Fall it gratia et vana est pulchritudo ; 
midier tiinens Dominum ipsa laudabitur." (Prov. xxxi. 
30.) 11. Rubens has given us thirteen Magdalenes, 
more or less coarse ; in one picture * she is tearing her 
hair like a disappointed virago ; in another, the ex- 
pression of grief is overpowering, but it is that of a 
woman in the house of correction. From this sweep- 
ing condemnation I must make one exception ; it is 
the picture known as " The Four Penitents." t In 
front the Magdalene bows down her head on her 
clasped hands with such an expression of profound 
humility as Rubens only, when painting out of nature 
and his own heart, could give. Christ, with an air 
of tender yet sublime compassion, looks down upon 
her : " Thy sins be forgiven thee ! " Beiiind Christ 
and the Magdalene stand Peter, David, and Didymus, 
the penitent thief ; the faces of these three, thrown into 
shadow to relieve the two principal figures, have a self- 
abased, mournful expression. I have never seen any- 
thing from the hand of Rubens at once so pure and pa- 

* Turin Gallery. 

t JXunich Gallery, 266. There is an inferior repetition in the 
Royal Gallery at Turin. 


thetic in sentiment as this picture, while the force atid 
truth of the painting are, as usual, wonderful. No one 
should judge Rubens who has not studied him in th« 
Munich Gallery. 

The Historical Subjects from the life of Mary- 
Magdalene are either Scriptural or legendary ; and the 
character of the Magdalene, as conceived by the great- 
est painters, is more distincth' expressed in those Scrip- 
tural scenes in which she is an important figure, than 
in the single and ideal representations. The illumi- 
nated Gospels of the ninth centurj' furnish the oldest 
type of Mary, the penitent and the sister of Lazarus, 
but it differs from the modern concc])tion of the Mag- 
dalene. She is in such subjects a secondary Scriptural 
personage, one of the accessaries in the history of 
Christ, and nothing more : no attempt was made to 
give her importance, either by beauty, or dignity, or 
prominence of place, till the end of the thirteenth cen- 

The sacred subjects in which she is introduced are 
the following : — 

1. Jesus at supper with Simon the Pharisee. — " And 
she began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe 
them with the hair of her head, and kissed his feet, and 
anointed them with ointment." (Luke vii. .30.) 

2. Christ is in the house of Martha and Mary. — 
" And she sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his words ; but 
Martha was cumbered with much serving." (Luke x 
2^ 40.) 

3. The Raising of Lazarus. — " Lord, if thou hadst 
been here, my brother had not died." (John xi. 32.) 

4. The Crucifixion. — "Now there stood by the 
cross Mary Magdalene." (John xix. 25 ; Matt, xxvii. 

5. The Deposition from the Cross. — " And Mary 
Magdalene, and the mother of Jesus, beheld where he 
was laid." (Mark xv. 47.) 

6. The Marys at the Sepulchre. — " And there was 


Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, sitting over 
against the sepulchre." (Matt, xxvii. 61.) 

7. Christ appears to Maiy Magdalene in the Gar- 
den, called the Noli me tangere. — " Touch me not, for 
I am not vet ascended to mv Father." (John xx. 

In the first, second, and last of these subjects, the 
Magdalene is one of the two principal figures, and ne- 
cessary to the action ; in the others she is generally intro- 
duced, but in some instances omitted ; and as all belong 
properly to the life of Christ, I shall confine myself now 
to a few remarks on the characteristic treatment of the 
Magdalene in each. 

1. The supper with Simon has been represented in 
ever/ variety of style. The earliest and simplest I 
can call to mind is the fresco of Taddco Gaddi in the 
Rinuccini Chapel at Florence. The Magdalene bends 
down prostrate on the feet of the Saviour ; she is in a 
red dress, and her long yellow hair flows down her back ; 
the seven devils by which she was possessed are seen 
above, flying out of the roof of the house in the shape of 
little black monsters. Raphael, when treating the same 
subject, thought only of the religious significance of the 
action, and how to express it with the utmost force 
and the utmost simplicity. There are few figures, — 
our Saviour, the Pharisee, four apostles, and two at- 
tendants : Mary Magdalene, in front, bends over the 
feet of Christ, while her long hair half conceals her 
face and almost sweeps the ground ; nothing can ex- 
ceed the tenderness and humility of the attitude and the 
benign dignity of Christ. As an example of the most 
opposite treatment, let us turn to the gorgeous compo- 
sition of Paul Veronese ; we have a stately banqnet- 
room, rich architecture, a crowd of about thirty figures ; 
and the Magdalene is merely a beautiful female with 
loose robes, dishevelled tresses, and the bosom dis- 
played : this gross fault of sentiment is more conspic- 
uous in the large picture in the Durazzo Palace at 
Genoa, than in the beautiful finished sketch in the col- 



lection of Mr. Eogers.* A fine sketch by the same 
painter, but quite different, is at Alton Towers. The 
composition of Eubens, of which a very fine sketch is 
in the Windsor collection, is exceedingly dramatic : 
the dignity of Christ and the veneration and humility 
of the Magdalene are admirably expressed ; but the 
disdainful surprise of some of the assistants, and the open 
mockery of others, — the old man in spectacles peering 
over to convince himself of the truth, — disturb the 
solemnity of the feeling : and this fault is even more 
apparent in the composition of Philippe de Cham- 
pagne, where a young man puts up his finger with no 
equivocal expression. In these two examples the 
moment chosen is not " Thy sins are forgiven thee," 
but the scepticism of the Pharisee becomes the leading 
idea : " This man, if he icere a prophet, irould have known 
who and what manner of woman this is." 

2. Christ in the house of Martha and Mary. Of 
this beautiful subject 1 have never seen a satisfactory 
version ; in the fresco by Taddeo Gaddi in the Rinut'- 
cini Chapel the subject becomes legendary rather than 
Scriptural. Mary Magdalene is seated at the feet of 
(Christ in an attitude of attention ; Martha seems to 
expostulate ; three of the disciples are behind ; a little 
out of the principal group, St. Marcella, also with a 
glory round her head, is seen cooking. At Hampton 
Court there is a curious picture of this subject by Hans 
Vries, which is an elaborate study of architecture : the 
rich decoration of the interior has been criticised ; but, 
according to the legend, Martha and Mary lived in 
great splendor ; and there is no impropriety in repre- 
senting their dwelling as a palace, but a very great 
impropriety in rendering the decorations of the palace 
more important than the personages of the scene. In 
a picture by Old Bassano, Christ is seen entering the 

* The great picture formerly in the Durazzo Palace is now in 
the Royal Gallery at Turin. It is wonderful for life and color, and 
dramatic feeling, — a masterpiece of the painter, in his character, 
istic style. 


house ; Mary Magdalene goes forward to meet him ; 
Martha points to the table where Lazarus sits com- 
posedly cutting a slice of sausage, and in the corner St. 
Marcella is cooking at a fire. In a picture by Rubens 
the treatment is similar. The holy sisters are like two 
Flemish farm servants, and Christ — but I dare not 
proceed : — in both these instances, the coloring, the 
expression, the painting of the accessaries — the vege- 
tables and fruit, the materials and implements for 
cooking a feast — areas animated and true to nature, 
as the conception of the whole scene is trivial, vulgar, 
and, to a just taste, intolerably profiine. 

One of the most modern compositions of this scene 
which has attracted attention is that of Overbeck, veiy 
simple and poetical, but deficient iu individual ex- 

3. The raising of Lazarus was selected by the early 
Christians as an emblem, both of tlie general resurrec- 
tion, and the resurrection of our Saviour, at a time 
that the resurrection of the Saviour in person was con- 
sidered a subject much too solemn and mysterious to 
be dealt with by the imitative arts. In its primitive 
siornification, as the received emblem of the i-esurrec- 
tion of the dead, we find this subject abounding in the 
catacombs, and on the sarcophagi of the third and 
fourth centuries. The usual manner of representation 
shows the dead man swathed like a mummy, under the 
porch of a temple resembling a tomb, to which there is 
an ascent by a flight of steps. Christ stands before 
him, and touches him with a wand. Sometimes there 
are two figures only, but in general Mary Magdalene 
is kneeling by. There is one instance only in which 
Christ stands surrounded by the apostles, and the two 
sisters are kneeling at his feet : " Lord, hadst thou 
been here, my brother had not died." (Bottari, Tab. 


In more modern Art, this subject loses its mystic 
signification, and becomes simply a Scriptural incident. 
It is treated like a scene In a drama, and the painters 



have done their utmost to vary the treatment. But, 
however varied as regards tlie style of conce))lion and 
the number of personages, Martiia and Mary are al- 
ways present, and, in general, Mary is at the feet of 
our Saviour. The incident is of course one of the most 
important in the life of Christ, and is never omitted in 
the series, nor yet in the miracles of our Saviour. But, 
from the beginning of the fourteenth century, it forms 
one of the scenes of the story of Mary Magdalene. 
The fresco of Giovanni da Milano at Assisi contains 
thirteen figures, and the two sisters kneeling at the 
feet of Christ have a grand and solemn simplicity ; but 
Mary is not here in any respect distinguished from 
Martha, and both are attired in red. 

In the picture in our National Gallery, the kneeling 
figure of Mary looking up in the face of Jesus, with 
her grand, severe beauty and earnest expression, is 
magnificent : but here, again, Mary of Bethany is 
not Mary Magdalene, nor the woman " who was a 
sinner " ; and I doubt whether Michael Angelo in- 
tended to represent her as such. On the other hand, 
the Caracci, Rubens, and the later painters are careful 
to point out the supposed identity, by the long fair 
hair, exposed and dishevelled, the superior beauty and 
the superior prominence and importance of the figure, 
while Martha stands by, veiled, and as a secondary 

4. In the Crucifixion, where more than the three 
figures (the Redeemer, the Virgin, and St. John) are 
introduced, the Magdalene is almost always at the foot 
of the cross, and it is said that Giotto gave the first 
example. Sometimes she is embracing the cross, and 
looking up with all the abandonment of despairing 
grief, which is more picturesque than true in senti- 
ment ; finer in feeling is the expression of serene hope 
tempering the grief. In Rubens's famous " Crucifix- 
ion " at Antwerp, she has her arms round the cross, 
and is gazing at the executioner with a look of horror ; 
this is very dramatic and striking, but the attention of 

*'7: MAKl' MAGDALENE. 389 

^he penitent ought to be fixed on the dying Saviour to 
the exclusion of every other thought or object. In 
Vandyck's " Crucifixion, " the face of the Magdalene 
seen in front is exquisite for its pathetic beauty. Some- 
times the Virgin is fainting in her arms. The box of 
ointment is frequently placed near, to distinguish her 
from the other Marys present. 

5. In the Descent or Deposition from the Cross, and 
in the Entombment, Mary Magdalene is generally con- 
spicuous. She is often supporting the feet or one of 
the hands of the Saviour ; or she stands by weeping ; 
or she sustains the Virgin ; or (which is very usual in 
the earlier pictures) she is seen lamenting aloud, with 
her long tresses disordered, and her arms outspread in 
an ecstasy of grief and passion ; or she bends down to 
embrace the feet of the Saviour, or to kiss his hand ; 
or contemplates with a mournful look one of the nails, 
or the crown of thorns, which she holds in her hand. 

In the Pieta of Fra Bartolomeo, in the Pitti Palace, 
the prostrate abandonment in the figure of the Magda- 
lene pressing the feet of Christ to her bosom, is full of 
pathetic expression ; in the same gallery is the Pieta 
by Andrea del Sarto, where the Magdalene, kneeling, 
wrings her hands in mute sorrow. But in this, as in 
other instances, Raphael has shown himself supreme : 
there is a wonderful little drawing by him, in which 
Nicodemus and others sustain the body of the Saviour, 
while Mary Magdalene lies prostrate bending her head 
over his feet, which she embraces ; the face is wholly 
concealed by the flowing hair, but never was the ex- 
pression of overwhelming love and sorrow conveyed 
with such artless truth. 

6. The Marys at the Sepulchre. The women who 
carry the spices and perfumes to the tomb of Jesus are 
called, in Greek Art, the Myrrhophores, or myrrh-bearers : 
with us there are usually three, — Mary Magdalene, 
Mary the mother of James and John, and Mary Sa- 
lome. In Matthew, two women are mentioned ; in 
Mark, three ; in Luke, the number is indefinite ; and 


in John, only one is mentioned, Mary Magdalene. 
There is scarcely a more beautiful subject in the whole 
circle of Scripture story, than this of the three desolate, 
affectionate women standing before the tomb in the 
gray dawn, while the majestic angels are seen guarding 
the hallowed spot. One of the earliest examples is the 
composition of Duccio : the rules of perspective were 
then unknown, — but what a beautiful simplicity in 
the group of women ! how fine the seated angel ! — 
" The angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and 
came and rolled back the stone from the door and sat 
upon it." I have seen one instance, and only one, in 
which the angel is in the act of descending ; in gen- 
eral, the version according to St. John is followed, and 
the " two men in shining garments " are seated within 
the tomb. There is a famous engraving, after a de- 
sign by Michael Angelo, called " The three Marys 
going to the Sepulchre " : it represents three old 
women veiled, and with their backs turned, — very 
awful ; but they might as well be called the three 
Fates, or the three Witches, as the three Marys. 
The subject has never been more happily treated 
than by Diilip Veit, a modern German artist, in a 
print which has become popular ; he has followed the 
version of Matthew : " As it began to dawn, came 
Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the 
sepulchre." The attitude of motionless sorrow ; the 
anxious, expectant looks, fixed on the tomb ; the deep, 
shadowy stillness ; the morning light just breaking in 
the distance, are very truly and feelingly expressed. 

7. The " Noli me tangere " is the subject of many 
pictures ; they do not vary in the simplicity of the 
motif, which is fixed by tradition, and admits but of 
two persons. The composition of Duccio, as one of 
the series of the Passion of Christ, is extremely grand ; 
and the figure of Mary, leaning forward as she kneels, 
with outstretched hands, full of expression. The old 
fresco of Taddeo Gaddi, in the Rinuccini Chapel,* is 

* Santa Croce, Florence. 


also exquisite. Two of the finest in conception and 
treatment are, notwitlistanding, in strilving contrast to 
eacli otlier. One is the Titian in the collection of Mr. 
Rogers : * the Magdalene, kneeling, bends forward 
with eager expression, and one hand extended to 
touch him : the Saviour, drawing his linen garment 
round him, shrinks back from her touch, — yet with 
the softest expression of pity. Besides the beauty and 
truth of the expression, this picture is transcendent as 
a piece of color and effect ; while the rich landscape 
and the approach of morning over the blue distance 
are conceived with a sublime simplicity. Not less a 
miracle of Art, not less poetical, but in a far different 
style, is the Rembrandt in the Queen's Gallery : at the 
entrance of the sepulchre the Saviour is seen in the 
habiliments of a gardener, and Mary Magdalene at his 
feet, adoring. This picture exhibits, in a striking de- 
gree, all the wild originality and peculiar feeling of 
Rembrandt : the forms and chai-acters are common ; 
but the deep shadow of the cavern tomb, the dimly- 
seen supernatural beings within it, the breaking of the 
dawn over the distant city, are awfully sublime, and 
worthy of the mysterious scene. Barroccio's great 
altar-piece, which came to England with the Duke 
of Lucca's pictures, once so famous, and well known 
from the tine engraving of Raphael Morghen, is poor 
compared with any of these : Christ is effeminate and 
commonplace, — Mary Magdalene all in a iiutter. 

I now leave these Scriptural incidents, to be more 
fully considered hereafter, and proceed to the fourth 
class of subjects pei'taining to the life of the Magda- 
lene, — those which are taken from the wild Provenfal 
legends of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. 

1. "La Danse de la Madeleine" is the title given 
to a very rare and beautiful print by Lucas v. Leyden. 
It represents Mary Magdalene abandoned to the pleas- 

* This beautiful and valuable picture has been bequeathed by 
the poet to the National Gallery. 



ures of the world. The scene is a smiling and varied 
landscape ; in the centre Mary Magdalene, with tlie 
anticipative glory round her head, is seen dancing 
along to tiie sound of a flute and tahor, while a man 
in a rich dress leads her by the hand : several groups 
of men and women are diverting themselves in the 
foreground ; in the background, Mary Magdalene, 
with a number of gay companions, is chasing the 
stag ; she is mounted on horseback, and has again 
the glory round her head : far in the distance she is 
seen borne upwards by the angels. This singular and 
suggestive composition is dated 1519. There is a fine 
impression in the British Museum. 

2. " Mary Magdalene rebuked by her sister Martha 
for her vanity and luxury." I believe I am the first 
to suggest that the famous picture in the Sciarra Pal- 
ace, by Leonardo da Vinci, known as " Modesty and 
Vanity," is a version of this subject. When I saw it, 
this idea was suggested, and no other filled my mind. 
The sulyect is one often treated, and here treated in 
Leonardo's peculiar manner. The attitude of the 
veiled figure is distinctlv that of remonstrance and 
rebuke ; the other, decked and smiling, looks out of 
the picture, holding flowers in her hand, as yet uncon- 
vinced, unconverted : the vase of ointment stands near 
her. In other pictures there is no doubt as to the sig- 
nificance of the subject ; it has been gracefully treated 
in a picture by Giovanni Lopicino, now in the gallery 
of the Belvedere at Vienna. She is seated at her toi- 
let ; her maid is binding her luxuriant hair ; Martha, 
standing by, appears to be remonstrating with great 
fervor. There is a pretty picture by Elizabetta Sirani 
of the same scene, similarly treated. 

3. " Mary Magdalene conducted by her sister Mar- 
tha to the feet of Jesus." Of this most beautiful sub- 
ject, I know but one composition of distinguished 
merit. It is by Raphael, and exists only in the draw- 
ing, and the rare engraving by Marc Antonio. Christ 
sits within the porch of the Temple, teaching four of 


his disciples who stand near him. Martha and Mary 
ai-e seen ascending the steps which lead to the portico : 
Martha, who is veiled, seems to encourage her sister, 
who looks down. I observe that Passavant and others 
are uncertain as to the subject of this charming design • 
it has been styled " The Virgin Mary presenting the 
Magdalene to Christ " ; but with any one who has 
carefully considered the legend, there can be no doubt 
as to the intention of the artist. " Mary Magdalene 
listening to, the preaching of our Saviour, with Martha 
seated by her side," is one of the subjects in the series 
by Gaudenzio Ferrari at Vercelli : it is partly destroyed. 
We have the same subject .by F. Zucchero ; Mai-y, in 
a rich dress, is kneeling at the feet of the Saviour, 
who is seated under a portico ; Martha, veiled, stands 
near her, and there are numerous spectators and acces- 

4. " The Magdalene renouncing the Vanities of the 
World," is also a very attractive subject. In a picture 
by Guido she has partly divested herself of her rich 
ornaments, and is taking some pearls from her hair, 
while she looks up to heaven with tearful eyes. In a 
sketch by Rubens in the Dulwich Gallery, she is seated 
in a forest solitude, still arrayed in her worldly finery, 
blue satin, pearls, &c., and wringing her hands with 
an expression of the bitterest grief The treatment, 
as usual with him, is coarse, but effective. In his 
large picture at Vienna, with the figures life-size, 
Mary is spurning with her feet a casket of jewels, and 
throwing herself back with her hands clasped in an 
agony of penitence : while Martha sits behind, gazing 
on her with an expression so demurely triumphant as 
to be almost comic. There is an exquisite little pic- 
ture by Gerard Douw in the Berlin Gallery, in which 
the Magdalene, in a magnificent robe of crimson and 
sables, is looking up to heaven with an expression of 
sorrow and penitence ; the table before her is covered 
with gold and jewels. " Mary Magdalene renouncing 
Ae World," by Le Brun. is a famous picture, now iu 


the Louvre. She looks up to heaven with tearful eyes, 
and is in the act of tearing off a rich mantle ; a casket 
of jewels lies overturned at her feet. Tliis picture is 
said to be the portrait of Madame de la Valliere, by 
whose order it was painted for the church of the Car- 
melites at Paris, wliere she had taken refuge from the 
court and from the world. It has that sort of theat- 
rical grace and grandeur, that mannered mediocrity, 
characteristic of the painter and the time.* There is 
a Magdalene in the Gallery at Munich by Le Brun, 
which is to me far preferable ; and this, and not the 
Paris one, I presume to be the portrait of the Duchesse 
de la Valliere. In a picture by Franceschini she has 
flung off her worldly ornaments, which lie scattered 
on the ground, and holds a scourge in her hand, with 
which she appears to have castigated herself: she sinks 
in the arms of one of her attendant maidens, while 
Martha, standing by, seems to s))eak of peace, and 
points towards heaven : the figures are life-size. t None 
of these pictures, with the exception of the precious 
Leonardo in the Sciarra Palace, have any remarkable 
merit as pictures. The scenes between Mary and Mar- 
tha are capable of the most dramatic and effective 
illustration, but have never yet been worthily treated. 

5. " The embarkation of the Magdalene in Pales- 
tine, with Martha, Lazarus, and the others, cast forth 
by their enemies in a vessel without sails or rudder, 
but miraculouslj' conducted by an angel," is another 
subject of which I have seen no adequate representa- 
tion. There is a mediocre picture by Curradi in the 
Florence Gallery. Among the beautiful frescos of 
Gaudenzio Ferrari in the Church of St. Cristoforo at 
Vercelli, is the voyage of the Magdalene and her com- 
panions, and their disembarkation at Marseilles. 

6. " Mary Magdalene preaching to the inhabitants 
of Marseilles," has been several times represented in 

* The print by Edelinck is considered as the masterpiece of 
that celebrated engraver. 
t Dresden Gal. 


the sculpture and stained glass of the old cathedrals in 
the South of France. In the Hotel de Cluny there is 
a curious old picture in distemper attributed to King 
Re'ne of Provence, the father of our Margaret of Anjou, 
and famous for his skill as a limner. Mary Magdalene 
is standing on some steps, arrayed in loose white dra- 
pery, and a veil over her head. She is addressing 
earnestly a crowd of listeners, and among them we see 
King Re'ne' and his wife Jeanne de Laval on thrones 
with crown and sceptre: — a trifling anachronism of 
about 1400 years, but it may be taken in a poetical 
and allegorical sense. The port of Marseilles is seen 
in the background. The same subject has been classi- 
cally treated in a series of bas-reliefs in the porch of 
the Certosa at Pavia : there is a mistake, however, in 
exhibiting her as lialf naked, clothed only in a skin, 
and her long hair flowing down over her person ; for 
she was at this time the missionary saint, and not yet 
the penitent of the desert. 

7. " Mary Magdalene borne by angels above the sum- 
mit of Mount Pilon," called also " The Assumption of 
the Magdalene," is a charming subject when treated in 
the right spirit. Unfortunately, we are oftener reminded 
of a Pandora, sustained by a group of Cupids, or a Venus 
rising out of the sea, than of the ecstatic trance of the 
reconciled penitent. It was very early a popular theme. 
In the treatment we find little variety. She is seen 
carried upwards very slightly draped, and often with 
no other veil than her redundant hair, flowing over her 
whole person. She is in the arms of four, five, or six 
angels. Sometimes one of the angels bears the ala- 
baster box of ointment ; flir below is a wild, mountain- 
ous landscape, with a hermit looking up at the vision, 
as it is related in the legend. 

In a hymn to the Magdalene, by an old Proven9al 
poet (Balthazar de la Burle), there is a passage de- 
scribing her ascent in the arms of angels, which, from 
its vivid, graphic naivete, is worthy of being placed 
under this print of Albert Diirer : — 


" Ravengat lou jnur los anges la porta van 
Ben plus hault que lou roc. 

Jamais per mauvais temps que fessa ne freddura, 
Autre abit non avia que la sien cabellura, 
Que como un mantel d'or tant erara bels e blonds 
La couvria de la testa fin al bas des talons." 

The fresco by Giulio Romano, in which she is re- 
clining amid clouds, and sustained by six angels, while 
her head is raised and her arms extended with the 
most ecstatic expression, was cut from the walls of a 
chapel in the Triiiita di Monte, at Rome, and is now 
in our National Gallery. 

One of the finest pictures ever painted by Ribera is 
the Assumption of the Magdalene in the Louvre, both 
for beauty of expression and color. She is here draped, 
and her drapery well managed. The Spanish painters 
never fell into the mistake of the Itahans ; they give 
us no Magdalenes which recall the idea of a Venus 
Meretrix. The rules of the Inquisition were here ab- 
solute, and held the painters in wholesome check, ren- 
dering such irreligious innovations inadmissil>le and 
unknown. In the Turin Gallery there is an Assump- 
tion of the Magdalene by Dennis Calvert, admirably 
painted, in which she is carried up by four Apollo-like 
angels, who, with their outstretched arms, form a sort 
of throne on which she is seated : she is herself most 
lovely, draped in the thin undress of a Venus ; and 
the whole composition, at first view, brought to my 
fancv the idea of a Venus rising from the sea, throned 
in her shell and sustained by nymphs and cupids. 

In general, the early painters, Albert Diirer, Viva- 
rini, Lorenzo di Credi, Benedetto Montagna, represent 
her in an upright position, with hands folded in prayer, 
or crossed over her bosom, and thus soaring upwards 
without effort of will or apparent consciousness ; 
while the painters of the seventeenth century (with 
whom this was a favorite subject) strained their imagi- 
nation to render the form and attitude voluptuously 
graceful, and to vary the action of the attendant angels, 


until, in one or two instances, the representation be- 
came at once absurdly prosaic and offensively theat- 
rical. F. Zucchero, Cambiasi, Lanfranco, Carlo iSIa- 
ratti, have all given us versions of this subject in a 
florid, mannered style. 

Over the high altar of the Madeleine, at Paris, is 
the same subject in a marble group, by Marochetti, 
rather above life-size. Two angels bear her up, while 
on each side an archangel kneels in adoration. 

8. The Last Communion of the Magdalene is repre- 
resented in two different ways, according to the two 
different versions of the story : in the first, she expires 
in her cave, and angels administer the last sacraments ; 
one holds a taper, another presents the cup, a third the 
wafer. This has been painted by Domenichino. la 
the other version she receives the sacrament from the 
hand of St. Maxiinin, who wears the episcopal robes, 
and the Magdalene kneels before him, half naked, ema- 
ciated, and sustained by angels : the scene is the porch 
of a church. 

9. The Magdalene dying in the "Wilderness, extend- 
ed on tlie bare earth, and pressing the crucifix to her 
bosom, is a frequent subject in the seventeenth century. 
One of the finest examples is the picture of Rustichino 
in the Florence Gallery. The well-known " Dying 
Magdalene " of Canova has the same merits and de- 
fects as his Penitent Magdalene. 

I saw a picture at Bologna by Tiarini, of which the 
conception apjieared to me very striking and poetical. 
The Virgin, " La Madre Addolorata," is seated, and 
holds in her hand the crown of thorns, which she con- 
templates with a mournful expression ; at a little dis- 
tance kneels Miry Magdalene with long, dishevelled 
hair, in all the abandonment of grief St. John stands 
behind, with his hands clasped, and his eyes raised to 

When the Magdalene is introduced into pictures of 
the " Incredulity of Thomas," it is in allusion to a fa- 
mous parallel in one of the Fathers, in which it is 


insisted, " that the faith of Mary Magdalene, and the 
doul)ts of Thomas, were equally serviceable to the 
cause of Christ." 

Among the many miracles imputed to the Magda- 
lene, one only has become popular as a subject of Art. 
Besides being extremely naive and poetical, it is ex- 
tremely curious as illustrating the manners of the time. 
It was probably fabricated in the fourteenth century, 
and intended as a kind of parable, to show that those 
who trusted in Mary Magdalene, and invoked her aid, 
might in all cases reckon upon her powerful interces- 
sion. It is thus related : — 

" Soon after Mary Magdalene landed in Provence, a 
certain prince of that country arrived in the city of 
Marseilles with his wife, for the purpose of sacrificing 
to the gods ; but they were dissuaded from doing so 
by the preaching of Mary Magdalene : and the prince 
one day said to die saint, ' We greatly desire to have a 
son. Canst thou obtain for us that grace from the 
God whom thou preachest ? ' And the Magdalene re- 
plied, ' If thy prayer be granted, wilt thou then believe^' 
And he answered, ' Yes, I will believe.' But shortly 
afterwards, as he still doubted, he resolved to sail to 
Jerusalem to visit St. Peter, and to find out whether 
his preaching agreed with that of Mary Magdalene. 
His wife resolved to accompany him : but the Imsliand 
said, ' How shall that be possible, seeing that thou art 
with child, and the dangers of the sea are very great ? ' 
But she insisted, and, throwing herself at his feet, she 
obtained her desire. Then, having laden a vessel with 
all that was necessary, they set sail ; and when a day 
and a night were come and gone, there arose a terrible 
storm. The poor woman was seized prematurely with 
the pains of childbirth ; in the midst of the tempest she 
brought forth her first-born son, and then died. The 
miserable father, seeing his wife dead, and his child de- 
prived of its natural solace, and crying for food, wrung 
his hands in despair, and knew not what to do. And 


the sailors said, ' Let its throw this dead body into the 
sea, for as long as it remains on board the tempest will 
not abate.' But the prince, by his entreaties, and by 
giving them money, restrained them for a while. Just 
then, for so it pleased Goil, they arrived at a rocky 
island, and the prince laid the body of his wife on the 
shore, and, taking the infant in his arms, he wept 
greatly, and said, ' Mary Magdalene ! to my grief 
and sorrow didst thou come to Marseilles ! Why 
didst thou ask thy God to give me a son only that I 
might lose both son and wife together ? O Mary 
Magdalene ! have pity on my grief, and, if thy prayers 
may avail, save at least the life of my child ! ' Then 
he laid down the infant on the bosom of the mother, 
and covered them both with his cloak, and went on his 
way, weei)iug. And when the prince and his attend- 
ants had arrived at Jerusalem, St. Peter showed him 
all the places where our Saviour had performed his 
miracles, and the hill on which he had been crucified, 
and the spot from whence ho had ascended into heaven. 
Having been instructed in the faith by St. Peter, at 
the end of two years the prince embarked to retui'n to 
his own country, and passing near to the island in 
Avhich he had left his wife, he landed in order to weep 
upon her grave. 

" Now, wonderful to relate ! — his infant child had 
been preserved alive by the prayers of the blessed Mary 
Magdalene ; and he was accustomed to run about on 
the sands of the sea-shore, to gather up pebbles and 
shells ; and when the child, who had never beheld a 
man, perceived the strangers, he was afraid, and ran 
and hid himself under the cloak which covered his dead 
mother ; and the father, and all who were with him, 
were filled with astonishment ; but their surprise was 
still greater when the woman opened her eyes, and 
stretched out her arms to her husband. Then they 
offered up thanks, and all returned together to Mar- 
seilles, where they fell at the feet of Mary Magda- 
lene, and received baptism. From that time forth, all 


the people of [Marseilles and the surrounding country 
became Christians." 

The picturesque capabilities of this extravagant but 
beautiful Icgeud will immediately suggest themselves to 
the fancy : — the wild sea-shore, — the lovely naked in- 
fant wandering on the beach, — the mother, slumbering 
the sleep of death, covered with the mysterious dra- 
pery, — the arrival of the mariners, — what opportunity 
for scenery and grouping, color and expression ! It 
was popular in the Giotto school, which arose and 
flourished just about the period when the enthusiasm 
for Mary Magdalene was at its height ; but later paint- 
ers have avoided it, or, rather, it was not sufficiently 
accredited for a Church legend ; and I have met with 
no example later than the end of the fourteenth cen- 

The old fresco of Taddeo Gaddi in the S. Croce at 
Florence will give some idea of the manner in which 
the subject was usually treated. In the foreground is a 
space representing an island ; water flowing round it, 
the water being indicated by many strange tishes. On 
the island a woman lies extended with lier hands 
crossed upon her bosom ; an infant lifts up the mantle, 
and seems to show her to a man bending over her ; the 
father on his knees, with hands joined, looks devoutly 
up to heaven ; four others stand behind expressing as- 
tonishment or fixed attention. In the distance is a 
ship, in which sits a man with a long white beard, in 
red drapery ; beside him another in dark drapery : be- 
yond is a view of a port with a lighthouse, intended, I 
presume, for Marseilles. The story is here told in a 
sort of Chinese manner as regards the drawing, com- 
position, and perspective ; but the figures and heads 
are expressive and significant. 

In the Chapel of the Magdalene at Assisi, the same 
subject is given with some variation. The bark con- 
taining the pilgrims is guided by an angel, and the in- 
fant is seated by the head of the mother, as if watch- 
ing her. 


The life of Mary Magdalene in a series of subjects, 
minr>-ling the Scriptural and legendary inoidents, may 
often be found in the old French and Italian churches, 
more especially in the chapels dedicated to her : and I 
should think that among the remains of ancient paint- 
ing now in course of discovery in our own sacred edi- 
fices they cannot fail to occur.* In the mural frescos, in 
the altar-pieces, the stained glass, and the sculpture of 
the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, such a series per- 
petually presents itself; and, well or ill executed, will in 
general be found to comprise the following scenes : — 

1. Her conversion at the feet of the Saviour. 2. 
Christ entertained in the house of Martha : Mary sits 
at his feet to hear his words. 3. The raising of Laza- 
rus. 4. Mary Magdalene and her companions embark 
in a vessel without sails, oars, or rudder. 5. Steered 
by an angel, they land at Marseilles. 6. Mary Mag- 
dalene preaches to the people. 7. The miracle of the 
mother and child. 8. The penance of the Magdalene 
in a desert cave. 9. She is can-ied up in the arms 
of angels. 10. She receives the sacraments from the 
hand of an angel or from St. ]Maximiu. 11. She dies, 
and angels bear her spirit to heaven. t 

* There are about 150 churches in England dedicated in honor 
of Mary Magdalene. 

t There is a fine series of frescos from the life of Mary Magda- 
lene by Gaudenzio Ferrari, in the church of St. Cristoforo at Ver- 
celli. 1. Mary and Martha are seated, with a crowd of others, 
listening to Christ, who is jireaching in a pulpit. Martha is 
veiled and thoughtful : Mary, richly dressed, looks up eagerly. — 
Half destroyed. 2. Mary anoints the feet of the Saviour : she 
lays her head down on his foot with a tender humiliation: in the 
background the Marys at the sepulchre and the Noli me tanyere. 
This also in great part ruined 3. The legend of the Prince of 
Provence and his wife, who are kneeling before Lazarus and 
Mary. Martha is to the left, and Marcella behind. In the back- 
ground are the various scenes of the legend : — the embarkation ; 
the scene on the island ; the arrival at Jerusalem ; the return to 
Marseilles with the child. This is one of the best preserved, and 
the heads are remarkably fine. 4. Mary Magdalene sustained 
Dy angels, her feet resting between the wings of one of them, is 


The subjects vary of course in number and in treat- 
ment, but, with some attention to the foregointj legend, 
they will easily be understood and discriminated. Such 
a series was painted by Giotto in the Chapel of the 
Bargello at Florence (where the portrait of Dante was 
lately discovered), but they are nearly obliterated ; the 
miracle of the mother and child is, however, to be dis- 
tinguished on the left near the entrance. The treat- 
ment of the whole hjis been imitated by Taddco Gaddi 
in the Rinuccini Chapel at Florence, and by Giovanni 
da Milano and Giottino in the Chapel of the Magda- 
lene at Assisi ; on the windows of the Cathedrals of 
Chartres and Bourges ; and in a series of bas-reliefs 
round the porch of the Certosa of Pavia, executed in 
the classical style of the sixteenth century. 

On reviewing generally the infinite variety which 
has been given to these favorite subjects, the life and 
penance of the Magdalene, 1 must end where I be- 
gan ; — in how few instances has the result been satis- 
factory to mind or heart, or soul or sense ! Many 
have well represented the particular situation, the ap- 
propriate sentiment, the sorrow, the hope, the devotion : 
but who has given us the character? A noble crea- 
ture, with strong sympathies, and a strong will, with 
powerful faculties of every kind, working for good 
or evil, — such a woman Mary Magdalene must have 
been, even in her humiliation ; and the feeble, girlish, 
commonplace, and even vulgar women who appear to 
have been usually selected as models by the artists, 
turned into Magdalenes by throwing up their eyes and 
letting down their hair, ill represent the enthusiastic 
convert or the majestic patroness. 

borne upwards. All the upper part of the figure is destroyed, 
la the background are the last communion and burial of the Mag- 
dalene. I saw these frescos in October, 1855. They suffered greatly 
from the siege in 1638, when several bombs shattered this part of 
the wall, and will soon cease to exist. They are engraved in their 
present state in Pianazzi's " Opere di Gaudenzio Ferrari," No. li 



I must not quit the subject of the Magdalene with- 
out some allusion to those wild legends which suppose 
a. tender attachment (but of course wholly pure and 
Platonic) to have existed between her and St. John the 
Evangelist.* In the enthusiasm which Mary Magda- 
lene excited in the thiiteenth century, no supposition 
that tended to exalt her was deemed too extravagant : 
some of her panegyrists go so far as to insist that the 
marriage at Cana, which our Saviour and his mother 
honored by their presence, was the marriage of St. 
John with the Magdalene ; and that Christ repaired to 
the wedding-feast on purpose to prevent the accomplish- 
ment of the marriage, having destined both to a state 
of greater perfection. This fable was never accepted 
by the Church ; and among the works of art conse- 
crated to religious purposes I have never met with any 
which placed St. John and the Magdalene in particular 
relation to each other, except when they are seen to- 
gether at the foot of the cross, or lamenting with the 
Virgin over the body of the Saviour : but such was the 
popularity of these extraordinary legends towards the end 
of the thirteenth and in the beginning of the fourteenth 
century, that I think it possible such may exist, and, for 
want of this key, may appear hopelessly enigmatical. 

In a series of eight subjects which exhibit the life of 
St. John prefixed to a copy of the Ilevelations,t there 
is one which I think admits of this interpretation. 
The scene is the interior of a splendid building sus- 
tained by pillars. St. John is baptizing a beautiful 
woman, who is sitting in a tub ; she has long golden 
hair. On the outside of the building seven men are 
endeavoring to see what is going forward : one peeps 
through the key-hole ; one has thrown himself flat on 

* Bayle, Diet. Hist.; Molanus, lib. iv.,de Hist. Sacrar. S. Mag., 
cap. XX. p. 428 ; Tlioinasium, prefat. 78. The authority usually 
cited is Abdius, a writer who pretended to have lived in the first 
century, and whom Bayle styles " the most impudent of legen- 
dary impostors." 

t Paris Bibliothfeque du Roi, MS. 7013, fourteenth century. 



the ground, and has his eye to an aperture ; a third, 
mounted on the shoulders of another, is trying to look in 
at a window ; a fifth, who cannot get near enough, tears 
his hair in an agony of impatience ; and another is bawl- 
ing into the ear of a deaf and blind comrade a descrip- 
tion of what he has seen. The execution is French, 
of the fourteenth century ; the taste, it will be said, is 
also French ; the figures are drawn with a pen and 
slightly tinted • the design is incorrect ; but the vivaci- 
ty of gesture and expression, though verging on cari- 
cature, is so true, and so comically dramatic, and the 
whole composition so absurd, that it is impossible to 
look at it \vithout a smile. 

St. Martha. 

Ital. Santa Marta, A'ergine, Albergatrice di Christo. Fr. Sainte 
Marthe, la Travailleuse. Patroness of cooks and housewives. 
June 29, A D. 84. 

Martha has shared in the veneration paid to her 
sisiter. The important part assigned to her in the his- 
tory of Mary has already been adverted to ; she is al- 
ways represented as the instrument through whom 
Mary was converted, the one who led her first to the 
feet of the Saviour. " Which thing," says the stoiy, 
" should not be accounted as the least of her merits, 
seeing that Martha was a chaste and prudent virgin, 
and the other publicly contemned for her evil life ; 
notwithstanding which, Martha did not despise her, 
nor reject her as a sister, but wept for her shame, and 
admonished her gently and with persuasive words ; 
and reminded her of her noble birth, to which she was 
a disgrace, and that Lazarus, their brother, being a 
soldier, would certainly get into trouble on her account. 
So she prevailed and conducted her sister to the pres- 
ence of Christ, and afterwards, as it is well known, she 
lodged and entertained the Saviour in her own house." * 

* II Perfetto Legendario. 

ST. MARTHA. 403 

According to the Proven9al legend, while Mary 
Magdalene converted the people of Marseilles, Martha 
pi-eached to the people of Aix and its vicinity. In 
those days the country was ravaged by a fearful dragon, 
called the Tarasque, which during the day lay con- 
cealed in the river Rhone. Martha overcame this 
monster by sprinkling him with holy water, and hav- 
ing bound him with her girdle (or, as others say, her 
garter), the people speedily put an end to him. The 
scene of this legend is now the city of Tarascon, where 
there is, or was, a magnificent church, dedicated to St. 
Martha, and richly endowed by Louis XI. 

The same legends assure us that St. Martha was 
the first who founded a monastery for women ; the 
first, after the blessed Mother of Christ, who vowed 
her virginity to God ; and that when she had passed 
many years in prayer and good works, feeling that 
her end was near, she desired to be carried to a spot 
where she could see the glorious sun in heaven, and 
that they should read to her the history of the passion 
of Christ ; and when they came to the words, " Father, 
into thy hands I commend my spirit," she died. 

As Mary Magdalene is the patroness of repentant 
frailty, so Martha is the especial patroness of female 
discretion and good housekeeping. In this character, 
she is often represented with a skimmer or ladle in her 
hand, or a large bunch of keys is attached to her girdle. 
For example, in a beautiful old German altar-piece, at- 
tributed to Albert Diirer,* she is standing in a mag- 
nificent dress, a jewelled turban, and holding a well- 
known implement of cookery in her hand. In a mis- 
sal of Henry VIII., t she is represented with the same 
utensil, and her name is inscribed beneath. In gen- 
eral, however, her dress is not rich, but homely, and her 
usual attributes as patron saint are the pot of holy- 
water, the asperge in her hand, and a dragon bound at 
her feet. In the chapels dedicated to the Magdalene, she 
finds her appropriate place as pendant to her sister, 

* Queen's Gal. t Bodleian MSS., Oxford. 


generally distinguished by her close coif, and by being 
draped in blue or dark brown or gray ; while the Mag- 
dalene is usually habited in red. When attended by 
her dragon, St. Martha is sometimes confounded with 
St. Margaret, who is also accompanied by a dragon, 
but it must be remembered that St. Margaret bears a 
crucifix or palm, and St. Martha the pot of holy-water ; 
and in general the early painters have been careful to 
distinguish these attributes. 

St. Martha, besides being a model of female discre- 
tion, sobriety, and chastity, and the patroness of good 
housewives, was, according to the old legends, the same 
woman who was healed by Christ, and who in grati- 
tude erected to his honor a bronze statue, which statue 
is said to have existed in the time of Eusebius, and to 
have been thrown down by Julian the Apostate.* 

When Martha and Mary stand together as patron- 
esses, one represents the active, the other the contempla- 
live. Christian life. 

Martha is generally introduced among the holy 
women who attend the crucifixion and entombment 
of our Lord. In a most beautiful Entombment by 
Ambrogio Lorenzetti, Martha kisses the hand of the 
Saviour, while Mary Magdalene is seen behind with 
outspread arms : Lazarus and Maximin stand at the 
head of the Saviour. 

Lazarus, the brother of Martha and Mary, is re- 
vered as the first bishop and patron saint of Marseilles, 
and is generally represented with the mitre and stole. 
There are at least fifty saints wlio wear the same attire ; 
but when a figure in episcopal robes is introduced into 
the same picture, or the same series, with Martha and 

* It is perhaps in reference to this tradition that St. Martha 
has become the patroness of an order of charitable women, who 
serve in the hospitals, particularly the military hospitals, in 
France and elsewhere, — her brother Lazarus having been a 



Mary, it may be presumed, if not otherwise distin- 
guished, to be St. Lazarus : sometimes, but rarely, 
the introduction of a bier, or his resurrection, in the 
background, serves to fix the identity. Grouped with 
these three saints, we occasionally find St. Marcella 
(or Manilla), who accompanied them from the East, 
but who is not distinguished by any attribute ; nor is 
anything particular related of her, except that she 
wrote the life of Martha, and preached the Gospel in 

There are beautiful full-length figures of Mary, Mar- 
tha, Lazarus, and Marcella, in the Brera at Milan, 
painted by one of the Luini school, and treated in a 
very classical and noble style ; draped, and standing 
in niches to represent statues. At Munich are the 
separate figures of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, by 
Gruenewald : Lazarus is seen standing by his bier ; 
Mary, in the rich costume of a German lady of rank, 
presents her vase ; and Martha is habited like a Ger- 
man hausfrau, with her dragon at her feet. They are 
much larger than life, admirably painted, and full of 
character, though somewhat grotesque in treatment. 

Over the altar of the church " La Major " at Mar- 
seilles, stands Lazarus as bishop ; Mary on the right, 
and Martha on the left : underneath these three statues 
runs a series of bas-reliefs containing the history of 
Lazarus. 1. He is recalled to life. 2. Seated on the 
edge of his tomb he addresses the spectators. 3. He 
entertains Christ. 4. The an-ival at Marseilles. 5. He 
preaches to the people. 6. He is consecrated bishop. 
7. He suffers martyrdom. 

In a tabernacle or triptica by Niccolo Frumenti (a. d. 
1461 * ), the central compartment represents the raising 
of Lazarus, who has the truest and most horrid ex- 
pression of death and dawning life I ever beheld. On 
the volet to the right is the supper in the house of 
Levi, and the Magdalene anointing the feet of the 

» Fl. Gal. 


Saviour ; on the left volet, Martha meets him on his 
arrival at Bethany : " Lord, if thou hadst been here, 
my brother had not died." 

In the chapel of Mary Magdalene at Assisi, we find, 
besides the history of her life, full-length figures of 
Mary, Martha, Lazarus, and Maximin. Mary, a beau- 
tiful, dignified figure, as usual in rich, red drapery, 
stands to the right of the altar, holding out her hand 
to a kneeling Franciscan : on the left Martha stands in 
gray drapery with a close hood : Lazarus and Maximin 
as bishops. 

This will give an idea of the manner in which these 
personages are either grouped together, or placed in 
connection with each other. 

St. Mary of Egypt. 

Ital. Santa Maria Egiziaca Penitente. Ft. Sainte Marie I'Egyp- 
tienne, La Gipesienne, La Jussienne. April 2, a. d. 433. 

I PLACE the story of St. Mary of Egypt here, for 
though she had no real connection with the Magdalene, 
in works of art they are perpetually associated as les 
bienheureuses pe'cheresses, and in their personal and pic- 
torial attributes not unfrequently confounded. The 
legend of Mary Egyptiaca is long anterior to that of 
Mary Magdalene. It was current in a written form 
so early as the sixth century, being then received as 
a true history ; but it appears to have been originally 
one of those instructive parables or religious romances 
which, in the early ages of the Church, were composed 
and circulated for the edification of the pious. In 
considering the manners of that time, we may easily 
believe that it may have had some foundation in fact. 
That a female anchoret of the name of Mary lived and 
died in a desert of Palestine near the river Jordan, — 
that she there bewailed her sins in solitude for a long 
course of years, and was accidentally discovered, — is 

ST. MARY or EGYPT. 409 

a very ancient tradition, supported by contemporary 
evidence. The picturesque, miraculous, and romantic 
incidents with which the story has been adorned, ap- 
pear to have been added to enhance the interest ; and, 
in its present form, the legend is attributed to St. Je- 

" Towards the year of our Lord 365, thei-e dwelt in 
Alexandria a woman whose name was Mary, and who 
in the infiiray of her life far exceeded Mary Magdalene. 
After passing seventeen years in every species of vice, 
it happened that one day, while roving along the sea- 
shore, she beheld a ship ready to sail, and a large com- 
pany preparing to embark. She inquired whither they 
were going 'i They replied that they were going up 
to Jerusalem, to celebrate the feast of the true cross. 
She was seized with a sudden desire to accompany 
them ; but having no money, she paid the price of 
her passage by selling herself to the sailors and pil- 
grims, whom she allured to sin by every means in her 
power. On their arrival at Jerusalem, she joined the 
crowds of worshippers who had assembled to enter the 
church ; but all her attempts to pass the threshold were 
in vain ; whenever she thought to enter the porch, a 
supernatural power drove her back in shame, in terror, 
in despair. Struck by the remembrance of her sins, 
and filled with repentance, she humbled herself and 
prayed for help ; the interdiction was removed, and 
she entered the church of God, crawling on her knees. 
Thenceforward she renounced her wicked and shameful 
life, and, buying at a baker's three small loaves, she 
wandered forth into solitude, and never stopped or re- 
posed till she had penetrated into the deserts beyond 
the Jordan, where she remained in severest penance, 
living on roots and fruits, and drinking water only ' 
her garments dropped away in rags piecemeal, leaving 
her unclothed ; and she prayed fervently not to be left 
thus exposed ; suddenly her hair grew so long as to 
<brm a covering for her whole person (or, according 
to another version, an angel lirought her a garment 


from heaven). Thus she dwelt in the wilderness, in 
prayer and penance, supported only by her three small 
loaves, which, like the widow's meal, failed her not, 
until, after the lapse of forty-seven years, she was dis- 
covered by a priest named Zosimus. Of him she re- 
quested silence, and that he would return at the end of 
a year, and bring with him the elements of the holy 
sacrament, that she might confess and communicate, 
before she was released from earth. And Zosimus 
obeyed her, and returned after a year ; but not being 
able to pass the Jordan, the penitent, supernaturally 
assisted, passed over the water to him ; and, having 
received the sacrament with tears, she desired the priest 
to leave her once more to her solitude, and to return in 
a year from that time. And when he returned he found 
her dead, her hands ci'ossed on her bosom. And he 
wept greatly ; and, looking round, he saw written in 
the sand these words : — ' O Father Zosimus, bury the 
body of the poor sinner, Maiy of Egypt ! Give earth 
to earth, and dust to dust, for Christ's sake ! ' He en- 
deavored to obey this last command, but being full of 
years, and troubled and weak, his strength failed him, 
and a lion came out of the wood and aided him, dig- 
ging with his paws till the grave was sufficiently large 
to receive the body of the saint, which, being commit- 
ted to the earth, the lion retired gently, and the old 
man returned home, praising God, who had shown 
mercy to the penitent." 

In single figures and devotional pictures, Mary of 
Egypt is portrayed as a meagre, wasted, aged woman, 
with long hair, and holding in her hand three small 
loaves. Sometimes she is united with Mary Magda- 
lene, as joint emblems of female penitence ; and not 
in painting only, but in poetry, — 

" Like redeemed Magdalene, 
Or that Egj'ptian penitent, whose teare 
Fretted the rocli, and moistened round her cave 

The thirsty desert.'' 


Thus they stand together in a little, rare print by Marc 
Antonio, the one distinguished by her vase, the other 
by her three loaves. Sometimes, when they stand to- 
gether, Mary Magdalene is young, beautiful, richly 
dressed ; and Mary of Egypt, a squalid, meagre, old 
woman, covered with rags : as in a rare and curious 
print by Israel von Mecken.* 

Pictures from her life are not common. The earliest 
I have met with is the series painted on the walls of 
the Chapel of the Bargello, at Florence, above the life 
of Mary Magdalene : they had been whitewashed over. 
In seeking for tlie portrait of Dante this whitewash has 
been in part removed ; and it is only just possible for 
those acquainted with the legend to trace in several 
compartments the history of Mary of Egypt. 

1. Detached subjects are sometimes met with. In 
the church of San Pietro-in-Po, at Cremona, they pre- 
serve relics said to be those of Mary of Egypt : and 
over the altar there is a large picture by Malosso, rep- 
resenting the saint at the door of the Temple at Jeru- 
salem, and repulsed by a miraculous power. She is 
richly dressed, with a broad-brimmed hat, and stands 
on the step, as one endeavoring to enter, while several 
persons look on, — some amazed, others mocking. 

2. Mary of Egypt doing penance in the desert is 
easily confounded with the penitent Magdalene. Where 
there is no skull, no vase of ointment, no crucifix 
near her, where the jjcnitent is aged, or at least not 
young and beautiful, with little or no drapery, and 
black or gray hair, the picture may be presumed to 
represent Mary of Egypt, and not the INIagdalene, how- 
ever like in situation and sentiment. There is a large, 
fine picture of this subject at Alton Towers. 

3. The first meeting of Mary and the hermit Zosi- 
mus has been painted by Ribera : in this picture her 
hair is gray and short, her skin dark and sunburnt, 
and she is clothed in rags. 

* B. Museum. 


4. In another picture by the same painter she is 
passing over the Jordan by the lielp of angels ; she 
is seen floating in the air with her hands clasped, and 
Zosimus is kneeling by. This subject might easily be 
confounded with the Assumption of the Magdalene, 
but the sentiment ought to distinguish them ; for, in- 
stead of the ecstatic trance of the Magdalene, we have 
merely a miraculous incident : the figure is but little 
raised above the waters, and the hermit is kneeling on 
the shore.* 

5. St. Mary receives the last communion from the 
hands of Zosimus. I have known this subject to be 
confounded with the last communion of the Magda- 
lene. The circumstances of the scene, as well as the 
character, should be attended to. Mary of Egypt re- 
ceives the sacrament in the desert ; a river is generally 
in the background : Zosimus is an aged monk. Where 
the Magdalene receives the sacrament from the hands 
of Maximin, the scene is a portico or chapel with 
rich architecture, and Maximin wears the habit of a 

6. The death of Mary of Egypt. Zosimus is kneel- 
ing beside her, and the lion is licking her feet or dig- 
ging her grave. The presence of the lion distinguishes 
this subject from the death of Mary IVIagdalene. 

St. Mary of Egypt was early a popular saint in 
France, and particularly venerated by the Parisians, 
till eclipsed by the increasing celebrity of the Magda- 
lene. She was styled, familiarly, La Gipesienne (the 
Gypsy)> softened by time into La Jussieune. The 
street in which stood a convent of reformed women 
dedicated to her, is still la Rue Jussienne. 

We find her whole story in one of the richly painted 
windows of the cathedral of Chartres ; and again in 
the " Vitraux de Bourges," where the inscription un- 
derneath is written " Segiptiaca." 

Among the best modern frescos which I saw at 
Paris, was the decoration of a chapel in the church 

* It was in the Sp. Gal. in the Louvre, now dispersed. 


of St. Merry, dedicated to Ste. Marie I'Egyptienne : 
the religious sentiment and manner of Middle-Age Art 
are as usual imitated, but with a certain unexpected 
originality in the conception of some of the subjects, 
which pleased me. 1. On the wall, to the right, she 
stands leaning on the pedestal of the statue of the 
Madonna in a meditative attitude, and having the 
dress and the dark complexion of an Egyptian dancing- 
girl ; a crowd of people are seen behind entering the 
gates of the Temple, at which she alone has been re- 
pulsed. 2. She receives the communion from the 
hand of Zosimus, and is buried by a lion. 

On the left-hand wall. 3. Her apotheosis. She is 
borne aloft by many angels, two of whom swing cen- 
sers, and below is seen the empty grave watched by a 
lion. 4. Underneath is a group of hermits, to whom 
the aged Zosimus is relating the story of the penitence 
and death of St. Mary of Egypt. 

I do not in general accept modern representations as 
authorities, nor quote them as examples ; but this re- 
suscitation of Mary of Egypt in a city where she was 
so long a favorite saint, appears to me a curious fact. 
Her real existence is doubted even by the writers of 
that Cliurch which, for fourteen centuries, has cele- 
brated her conversion and glorified her name. Yet 
the poetical, the moral significance of her story re- 
mains ; and, as I have reason to know, can still im- 
press the fancy, and, through the fancy, waken the 
conscience and touch the heart. 

There were several other legends current in the 
early ages of Christianity, promulgated, it should 
seem, with the distinct purpose of calling the frail 
and sinning woman to repentance. If these were 
not pure inventions, if the names of these beatified 
penitents retained in the ofiices of the Church must 
be taken as evidence that they did exist, it is not less 
certain that the prototype in all these cases was the 
reclaimed woman of the Scriptures, and that it was 
the pitying charity of Christ whicli first taught nitn 
and angels to rejoice over the sinner that repentcth. 


The legend of ]SL\ry, the niece of the hermit Abra- 
ham * must not be confounded with that of Mary of 
Egypt. Tlie scene of this story is placed in the des- 
erts of Syria. The anchoret Abraham had a brother, 
who lived in the world and possessed great riches, and 
when he died, leaving an only daughter, she was 
brought to her uncle Abraham, apparently because of 
his great reputation for holiness, to be brought up as 
he should think fit. The ideas of this holy man, with 
regard to education, seem to have been those enter- 
tained by many wise and religious people since his 
time ; but there was this difference, that he did not 
show her the steep and thorny way to heaven, and 
choose for himself " the primrose path of dalliance." 
Instead of applying to his charge a code of morality 
as distinct as possible from his own, he, more just, 
only brought up his niece in the same ascetic princi- 
ples which he deemed necessary for the salvation of 
all men. 

Mary, therefore, being brought to her uncle when she 
was only seven years old, he built a cell close to his 
own, in which he shut her up ; and, through a little 
window, which opened between their cells, he taught 
lier to say her prayers, to recite the Psalter, to sing 
liymns, and dedicated her to a life of holiness and sol- 
itude, praying continually that she might be deUvered 
from the snares of the arch-enemy, and keeping her 
far, as he thought, from all possibility of temptation ; 
while he daily instructed her to despise and hate all the 
pleasures and vanities of the world. 

Thus Mary grew up in her cell till she was twenty 
years old : then it happened that a certain youth, who 
had turned hermit and dwelt in that desert, came to 
visit Abraham to receive his instructions ; and he be- 
lield through the window the face of the maiden as she 
prayed in her cell, and heard her voice as she sang the 
morning and the evening hymn ; and he was inflamed 
with desire of her beauty, till his whole heart became 

* Santa Maria Penitente. 

ST. 3fARY OF EGYPT. 415 

as a furnace for the love of her ; and forgetting his re- 
ligious vocation, and moved thereto by the Devil, he 
tempted Mary, and she fell. When she came to her- 
self, her heart was troubled ; she beat her breast and 
wept bitterly, thinking of what she had been, what she 
had now become ; and she despaired, and said in her 
heart, " For me there is no liope, no return ; shame 
is my portion evermore ! " So she fled, not daring 
to meet the face of her uncle, and went to a distant 
place, and lived a life of sin and shame for two years. 

Now, on the same night tliat she fled from her cell, 
Abraliam had a dream ; and he saw in his dream a 
monstrous dragon, who came to his cell, and finding 
there a beautiful white dove, devoured it, and returned 
to his den. When the hermit awoke from his dream, 
he was perplexed, and knew not what it might por- 
tend ; but again he dreamt, and he saw the same drag- 
on, and he put his foot on its head, and cruslied it, 
and took from its maw the beautiful dove, and put it 
in his bosom, and it came to life again, and spread its 
wings and flew towards heaven. 

Then the old man knew that this must relate to his 
niece Mary ; so he took up his staff, and went forth 
through the world, seeking her everywhere. At length 
he found her, and seeing her overpowered with shame 
and despair, he exhorted her to take courage, and com- 
forted her, and promised to take her sin and her pen- 
ance on himself She wept and embraced his knees, and 
said, " O my flither ! if thou thinkest that there is hope 
for me, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest, 
and kiss thy footsteps which lead me out of this gulf 
of sin and death ! " So he prayed with her, and re- 
minded her that God did not desire the death of a sin- 
ner, but rather that he should turn from his wicked- 
ness and live ; and she was comforted. And the next 
morning Abraham rose up and took his niece by the 
hand, leaving behind them her gay attire and jewels 
and ill-gotten wealth. And they returned together to 
tht cell in the wilderness. 


From this time did Mary lead a life of penitence and 
of great humility, ministering to her aged uncle, who 
died glorifying God : after his death, she lived on many 
years, praising God and doing good in humbleness and 
singleness of heart, and having favor with the people ; 
so that from all the country round they brought the 
sick, and those who were possessed, and she healed 
them, — such virtue was in her praj^ers, although she 
had been a sinner ! Nay, it is written, that even the 
touch of her garment restored health to the afflicted. 
At length she died, and the angels carried her spirit 
out of the shadow and the cloud of sin, into the glory 
and the joy of heaven. 

Although the legend of Mary the Penitent is ac- 
cepted by the Church, which celebrates her conversion 
on the 29th of October, effigies of her must be rare ; 
I have never met with any devotional representation of 
her. A print attributed to Albert Diirer represents the 
hermit Abraham bringing back his penitent niece to 
his cell.* 

In the Louvre are two large landscapes hy Philippe 
de Champagne, which in poetry and grandeur of con- 
ception come near to those of Niccolb Poussin ; both 
represent scenes from the life of Mary the Penitent. 
In the first, amid a wild and rocky landscape, is the 
cell of Abraham, and Mary, sitting within it, is visited 
by the young hermit who tempted her to sin : in the 
second, we have the same wilderness, under another 
aspect ; Mary, in a rude secluded hut, embowered in 
trees, is visited by pilgrims and votaries, who bring to 
her on their shoulders and on litters, the sick and 
afflicted, to be healed by her prayers. The daughter 
of Champagne, whom he tenderly loved, was a nun at 
Port Royal, and I think it probable that these pictures 
(like others of his works) were painted for that cele- 
brated convent. 

St. Thais, a renowned Greek saint, is another of 
* Leben und Werke von Albrecht Diirer, No. 2067. 

Sr. PELAGIA. 41,, 

these " bienkeureuses pecheresses," not the samfe who sat 
at Alexander's feast, and fired Persepolis, but a fire- 
brand in her own way. St. Pelagia, called Pelagia 
Meretrix and Pelagia Mima (for she was also an ac- 
tress), is another. These I pass over without farther 
notice, because I have never seen nor read of any rep- 
resentation of them in Western Art. 

St. Afra, who sealed her conversion with her blood, 
will be found among the Martyrs. 

Poets have sung, and moralists and sages have 
taught, that for the frail woman there was nothing left 
but to die ; or if more remained for her to suffer, there 
was at least nothing left for her to be or do : no choice 
between sackcloth and ashes and the livery of sin. 
The beatified penitents of the early Christian Church 
spoke another lesson ; spoke divinely of hope for the 
fallen, hope without self-abasement or defiance. We, 
in these days, acknowledge no such saints : we have 
even done our best to dethrone Mary Magdalene ; but 
we have martyrs, — " by the pang without the palm," 
— and one at least among these who has not died with- 
out lifting up a voice of eloquent and solemn warning ; 
who has borne her palm on earth, and whose starry 
crown may be seen on high, even now, amid the con- 
stellations of Geai\i3, 





N Jameson, Anna Brownell 

7830 [Murphy] 

J2 Sacred and legendary 

1895 art [3d. ed.]